The Privatization of Police in America: An Analysis and Case Study

By Beachell, James C. | Security Management, December 2004 | Go to article overview

The Privatization of Police in America: An Analysis and Case Study


Beachell, James C., Security Management


The Privatization of Police in America: An Analysis and Case Study. By James F. Pastor; published by McFarland and Company; available from ASIS International, Item #1577, 703/519-6200 (phone), www.asisonline.org (Web); 344 pages; $35 (ASIS members), $39 (nonmembers).

Originally written as a doctoral thesis and republished commercially for a wider audience, this book has the strengths and weaknesses of an academic tract.

On the plus side, the author raises interesting issues and generates thought-provoking insights into what he perceives as the increasing privatization of police in the United States and the constitutional questions that this trend raises. Weaknesses, on the other hand, include lengthy explanations, excessively detailed presentations of methodology, and the limitation of the case-study method--it is difficult to generalize findings to other scenarios.

An attorney and former police officer, the author is particularly strong on legal issues. He raises questions about the applicability of constitutional rights when private security personnel take action, an opportune inquiry at a time when the government looks to the private sector as a major homeland security resource. Specifically, the author probes under what circumstances private security officers act on behalf of the government and under what circumstances they are purely private sector actors.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Another operational factor that the author addresses, which few other authors have, is accountability, which he contends limits abusive or illegal conduct. …

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