Teaching Public Cops to Deal with Private Cops


As America's security industry expands, public police have an increasing need to establish boundaries and strategies for their interactions with private police, according to a new paper released by the federal National Institute of Justice (NIJ).

“The boundary between public and private policing is messy and complex. Police executives deal with some aspect of it almost every day,” writes author Malcolm Sparrow, in the latest paper from the Harvard Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety, a series of conferences that during the last six years targeted major law enforcement policy issues.

Sparrow, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, outlines four hypothetical scenarios that police executives commonly face in dealing with private policing services: a private firm that offers specialized elite policing services, such as hostage rescue, an aggressive neighborhood watch, a state safety association and a private university police department.

In all cases, police should consider it their responsibility to understand the motivations and capabilities of various private policing interests, and ensure that “the overall provision of security squares with the public purpose,” Sparrow writes.

“As public police engage in partnerships and networked relationships involving private and not-for-profit organizations, they become less the deliverers of security and more the orchestrators of security provision.”

Read the full paper HERE.

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