Resolved: The police should be privatized
|Voting Style:||Open||Point System:||7 Point|
|Updated:||3 months ago||Status:||Debating Period|
|Viewed:||235 times||Debate No:||97540|
This is as true for the police as it is for any other facet of government. If someone is breaking in my house and I call the police, what is their incentive to get to my house quickly and stop the intruder efficiently? Altruism? If the intruder murders me and my family, the police station won't lose a dime. If anything, they will say that if they had more funding it wouldn't have happened.
Imagine what private police firms would look like. They could be licensed by the government to uphold the law. Individuals and businesses would hire firms, much like security guards now, to protect their property. Subdivisions could have a small force that everyone contributes to. These firms would probably make it a point to check on every one of their customer's properties periodically. You could let them know when you'll be out of town. They would probably keep at least one officer within 5-10 minutes of every house. If the firm had a good reputation, they would gain customers and make more money. If they didn't, they would go out of business. Firms would probably insure their customers in cases of robbery. If they are unable to stop the robbery or recover the stolen items they would pay out. Although this is all speculation, private firms would at least have the incentive to go above and beyond where the government does not.
Another important benefit of private police is that violent crimes would take top priority. A private firm would have no monetary incentive to harass people over victimless crimes like drug use, prostitution, or gambling. They would be focused exclusively on the safety and satisfaction of their customers. This means that policemen would spend their time catching murderers, rapists, and thieves rather than sitting on the side of the road with a radar gun.
Lastly, examine the behavior of a police officers as opposed to a private sector employee. Go on youtube and you can watch an endless supply of videos of police acting with completely unnecessary aggression.
- A policewoman dumping a quadriplegic man out of his wheelchair
- A policeman throwing a flashbang into a babies crib
- Many policeman killing dogs who posed no legitimate threat
All of these actions would be unthinkable in the private sector. If a Walmart employee dumped a quadriplegic man out of his wheelchair he/she would be fired immediately and Walmart would be sued. When its a police officer they "launch an investigation"; and good luck suing the police. To my knowledge, FedEx and UPS drivers arent known for shooting up peoples pets when they come to the door. Private firms are much more likely to treat people with dignity, lest they lose business and money in lawsuits.
In conclusion, private police forces would be forced to cater directly to their constomer's needs. This means that they would provide a higher level of safety, they would waste less resources in doing so, and they would be forced to act like public servants and not bullies.
Welcome to the site and thanks for setting up a very interesting debate topic.
Running short on time here, as per usual, so I’ll toss out my general objections and log more time and sourcing next round. Ayn Rand was the libertarian queen but objected to the privatization of gov’t especially with respect to the legal application of force. We’ve already seen what this looks like throughout human history, competing groups that use force shares problems that mafia families or drug warlords inflict on a society..
1. Private police would be more efficient at what exactly?
We see a lot of abuse currently since police has an incentive to make money in many cases, good stuff, but not when you’re at the other end of the gun. We have laws that allow seizure of property acquired illegally such as a drug dealers property. Private prisons make their money imprisoning addicts for the most part rather than spending that money on treatment or any kind of rehabilitation.
A profit motive with respect to the application of force is not a great idea.
2. “Individuals and businesses would hire firms, much like security guards now, to protect their property.”
You’re basically describing a major problem with private police. Each company has motivation to ‘enforce the law’ in their favor. It’s in their favor to harass competing businesses or take a liberal license with regulations to force competition out. We already have lobbyists for that.
Competing firms and people hiring ‘police’ is like like a mafia protection racket. Dividing and organizing police to support competing goals with guns and tasers is a major conflict of interest.
3. “Violent crimes would take priority.”
Currently crimes that earn money for police take priority. Violent crimes are often only important for PR and privatization would only make this worse. “All men are created equal, here’s the church, there’s the steeple.” I.e. rich lives with popular ideas take priority. The money is in the victimless crimes like drugs prostitution and gambling. To make money you can simply seize funds that are earned ‘illegally’, pull over drivers going 11 miles over the speed limit, plant drugs when you just know the guy is guilty (and likely has cash on hand.)
4.“They would be focused exclusively on the safety and satisfaction of their customers.”
From my perspective it’s baffling that this would be a good thing. Police with customers in control just empowers wealthy people and businesses. I’d hate to see what a poor man’s police would look like given the current common abuses of the law in low income areas.
5. There is no reason to think that a private police would reduce violence.
Violence, frankly, gets shite done. If my police firm can’t rough up my personal enemies or box out my competition with threats I’ll hire another firm that can. If my firm can’t keep the violence out of the news I’d here a firm that would be more discreet.
Police, or the legal application of force, is an issue unlike any other. With the gov’t having a monopoly on force we’ve often been able to keep the application of the law impartial. Privatization would make police completely biased toward whoever’s paying the bills. Being a fan of a smaller government law enforcement is still the last thing I’d consider support for privatization. I’d start with private regulation firms but I’ll write up a separate debate for that.
This being stipulated, its not correct to liken private police, in this sense, to the mafia. They would be licensed by, and beholden to the state just like cops are now.
1. "A profit motive with respect to the application of force is not a good idea."
In your first counter argument, you list some problematic laws that are on the books now. All of them are taken advantage of by government police, and I happen to agree with you that all of the laws you listed are bad in their own right. Since I have little faith in legislators to stop passing bad laws, the question is how can we minimize the negative effects of these laws?
For example: you cite laws that allow law enforcement to seize drug dealers' property. Often time this process involves scoping people out, getting tips from other member of the drug community, planning a swat raids, and breaking in peoples' houses in the middle of the night. But why would private police do any of this? If the drug dealer is their customer, they have every incentive to look the other way. Why would they lock up their own customers and lose their business? If the drug dealer is not their customer, they would have every incentive to look the other way. There is no money to he made, in a free market, by arresting peaceful people.
To your point about private prisons:
"Private prisons" make their money exclusively from the government. In other words they do not cater to consumer preferences. For this reason they are more of a "quasi-private" enterprise. It is not correct to compare an entity that is paid exclusively by the government to one that is paid by consumers directly. Private prisons, socialist institutions, must lock up whomever the government requires them to. Private police would enforce laws only to the extent that consumers prefer.
2. Your concern that competing security firms would be in constant conflict is superficially plausible. These firms, no doubt, would be in conflict; but only in the sense that competing firms in other industries are in conflict. Policing firms would, in my opinion, confine themselves to serving their own customers. There would be no monetary incentive for them to harass non-customers. Firms certainly would differ in how they enforce laws, but we have laws to regulate their methods and courts to arbitrate disputes between firms. In short, we have more security guards than police in the U.S. now, yet we never hear about firm A harassing firm B for the simple reason that its not profitable. We have every reason to believe that police firms would compete for business peacefully; the same way T-Mobile and Sprint compete.
3. Your third objection describes how police are currently incentiviized to enforce victimless crimes; and you're exactly right. However, this is the biggest reason that police should be privatized. It is hard to imagine that private police, who have no access to tax dollars, would find it profitable to harass non-customers just because they could confiscate their property in certain cases. We know for a fact, however, that most people value safety and would be willing to pay directly for protection from violent crime.
4. As for your concern about rich people taking advantage of this system:
Their would certainly by discrepancy in the quality of police protection between rich and poor. But, in my estimation, that is better than universally bad police. Rich people and companies would hire the best firms to protect themselves and their property but there is no reason to think they would hire firms to molest others. Remember, police firms and their customers would still be held to the parmameters of the law.
5. Police would certainly be authorized to use violence in certain situations, namely to defend their customers. But these firms would not be authorized to do anything that the government police can't do now. Firms that abused their authority by "roughing up its customers' personal enemies" ect., would be liable in court and subject to having their government licensure revoked.
Having the police be "biased toward whomever's paying the bills" is exactly what we need. The key thing is that they are bound by the parameters of the law so they cannot be part time hit men. Government licensure can keep this connection between law and law enforcement honest while still allowing companies to compete on the market.
Somewhere in a parallel universe there is a world where police are private and food production is nationalized. In this world those who argue for private food production are deemed crazy. The fact is that in both cases the market forces companies to meet consumer needs, whereas government has no competition or real incentive to serve people. In the Soviet Union, people staved by the millions because food production was government-run. For the exact same reasons, crime will always be a bigger problem than it should be when the government has a monopoly on policing.
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