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Privatizing Public Protection

ClassicRobert
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4/25/2014 11:46:19 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
As some of you may or not be aware, there was a recent issue with bad PR for the NYPD.

http://www.dailydot.com...

The tl;dr version of that article (though I recommend you read it) is that recently, the NYPD posted this tweet "Do you have a photo w/ a member of the NYPD? Tweet us & tag it #myNYPD. It may be featured on our Facebook. " to try to get public support. However, this backfired when people on twitter decided to start posting large amounts of pictures of police brutality.

One might say, "Holy crap, that's a PR nightmare for the NYPD." However, that's not quite the case. This is because, regardless of how much worse this makes the NYPD's reputation, nothing is going to change about its behavior. A few policemen might be fired or put on a short leave, the police might even reduce their brutality for a little bit, but ultimately, we're going to end up right back where we started, with the NYPD abusing the public it's supposed to protect.

Why is this? Well, the NYPD have no competition. If the police were privatized, and it was a competitive market, then the police would actually be accountable to the people. If this #MyNYPD debacle happened in that world, I have difficulty imagining that people wouldn't switch to the competition, who presumably wouldn't exercise brutality on its own customers.

I'm not sure if its my stance at this point that the police should be privatized, but at the moment, it certainly seems preferable to the alternative of perpetual police brutality.
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Hematite12
Posts: 400
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4/26/2014 12:19:52 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Well, who pays for the police?

If everyone is acting in their own self interest (the ones who would support privatization would agree with this statement, I would think), then no one will pay for police. Because, there is no incentive for you to pay when you can rely on others to fear for their safety even more and pay. But, they will be thinking the same thing. So, acting in self interest means no law enforcement if it is privatized.

Funding something like the police either requires altruism, which is a shaky foundation for peoples' safety, I would think, OR it requires an official contract of cooperation where some of the money given by each citizen pays for the law enforcement... i.e. what we have now.

Also, what about poor communities? NO ONE would be able to pay for police, so crime rates would go up, and this is a vicious cycle. The poor communities would be even more ruined and be less able to pay for any sort of law enforcement, and so on, until they are basically screwed.
Citrakayah
Posts: 1,500
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4/26/2014 1:13:08 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/25/2014 11:46:19 PM, ClassicRobert wrote:
Why is this? Well, the NYPD have no competition. If the police were privatized, and it was a competitive market, then the police would actually be accountable to the people. If this #MyNYPD debacle happened in that world, I have difficulty imagining that people wouldn't switch to the competition, who presumably wouldn't exercise brutality on its own customers.

I'm not sure if its my stance at this point that the police should be privatized, but at the moment, it certainly seems preferable to the alternative of perpetual police brutality.

Seems to me you're committing three errors.

First, you don't need competition to eliminate police brutality, you need the police to be able to be held accountable for their actions. That means court systems that are better equipped to deal with police brutality, and it means that we need to equip police with bodyworn cameras (http://www.newscientist.com...). We might also experiment with harsh minimum sentences for police brutality.

These will require reforms, and that won't necessarily happen... but honestly if the police are privatized, it will be because corporate interests can make money off it.

Second, the real problem isn't a lack of competition, it's human psychology. Police officers believe that they, personally, will not be held accountable, or that the people they are being brutal towards are scum and deserve it.

Your model does not hold individual police officers accountable, it holds the entire group accountable... which would seem to be better, but unfortunately it won't seem as "close," and will be more abstract. Therefore it is less likely to be on someone's mind--if I have a camera attached to me, I am more likely to be aware of that than "someone might take a picture of me, and if enough people do this, the company I work for might decrease in popularity, resulting in me being laid off."

Third--tying in with the second part of the second point--not everyone--or every community--can afford quality police protection. Indeed, under a private police, there is little to stop exploitation of the poor and disenfranchised, who happen to need protection from police brutality the most.

There is, of course, competition in the current model--what is competing are laws and politicians. And under the current model, it is one man one vote--of course, some people have a harder time voting. Your model would only widen the disparity, though.
ClassicRobert
Posts: 2,487
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4/26/2014 7:51:05 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/26/2014 1:13:08 AM, Citrakayah wrote:
At 4/25/2014 11:46:19 PM, ClassicRobert wrote:
Why is this? Well, the NYPD have no competition. If the police were privatized, and it was a competitive market, then the police would actually be accountable to the people. If this #MyNYPD debacle happened in that world, I have difficulty imagining that people wouldn't switch to the competition, who presumably wouldn't exercise brutality on its own customers.

I'm not sure if its my stance at this point that the police should be privatized, but at the moment, it certainly seems preferable to the alternative of perpetual police brutality.

Seems to me you're committing three errors.

First, you don't need competition to eliminate police brutality, you need the police to be able to be held accountable for their actions. That means court systems that are better equipped to deal with police brutality, and it means that we need to equip police with bodyworn cameras (http://www.newscientist.com...). We might also experiment with harsh minimum sentences for police brutality.

These will require reforms, and that won't necessarily happen... but honestly if the police are privatized, it will be because corporate interests can make money off it.

Right, and how long does it take for reforms to happen, and how long will those reforms even last to reduce police brutality if they do end up happening? Once again, due to their monopoly on force, they aren't really accountable to us. We don't live in a society where we can take a vote any time to reform anything we want. The politicians might decide to vote on something, they might not, and even if they do, it's rare that the vote actually goes through. While competition is sticky, I'd bet my life savings that if the police were privatized, then people would choose to switch firms after the #MyNYPD debacle. You'd find competing firms willing to put cameras on their police officers as measures of good faith to sway consumers, or taking other measures to show the people that they wouldn't be abusing and killing them while their job is to protect them.

Second, the real problem isn't a lack of competition, it's human psychology. Police officers believe that they, personally, will not be held accountable, or that the people they are being brutal towards are scum and deserve it.

Your model does not hold individual police officers accountable, it holds the entire group accountable... which would seem to be better, but unfortunately it won't seem as "close," and will be more abstract. Therefore it is less likely to be on someone's mind--if I have a camera attached to me, I am more likely to be aware of that than "someone might take a picture of me, and if enough people do this, the company I work for might decrease in popularity, resulting in me being laid off."

This system holds both the individual and the group accountable. It would be a pretty bad choice by the management in the privatized police department to keep brutal policeman who could hurt the business in the job. An individual on the force messes up, the public will hold the entire firm accountable, so that firm either fires the employee and/or makes substantive reforms to the way they do business, or people start switching over to the competition. Under our current system, people just don't get fired often for police brutality. Sometimes they get a short leave of absence, occasionally someone gets demoted, but as the police department isn't accountable to the people, they don't really need to worry about taking punitive measures. The simple truth is that more brutal policemen would end up fired under the privatized system. So basically, the benefits of the police being privatized and having the individual and the department being held accountable are held opposed to the status quo, where the individuals are very rarely held accountable, and the department that allows the brutality is almost never held accountable.

Third--tying in with the second part of the second point--not everyone--or every community--can afford quality police protection. Indeed, under a private police, there is little to stop exploitation of the poor and disenfranchised, who happen to need protection from police brutality the most.

There is, of course, competition in the current model--what is competing are laws and politicians. And under the current model, it is one man one vote--of course, some people have a harder time voting. Your model would only widen the disparity, though.

That's assuming that no charity work would end up happening. That being said, we don't really know how this would end up working if the police were privatized. One way that it could end up happening is that firms begin to include police protection under employment contracts as a job benefit. Another way is that homeowners associations would pay for the protection for their neighborhoods, or landlords would pay to protect the area to attract people. Regardless of the system, people probably wouldn't be interested in just hiring a lot of personal security guards, so there would still likely be areas like jurisdictions where the police protect rather than individual people. It would still likely be in the interests of the firms to offer a scalable degree of protection to increase the amount of people able to afford it.

And competition in law and politicians isn't what we're talking about here- we're talking about the people who enforce the law. And no, it isn't "one man, one vote." Referendums aren't exactly common in regards to this sort of thing, or in general.
Debate me: Economic decision theory should be adjusted to include higher-order preferences for non-normative purposes http://www.debate.org...

Do you really believe that? Or not? If you believe it, you should man up and defend it in a debate. -RoyLatham

My Pet Fish is such a Douche- NiamC

It's an app to meet friends and stuff, sort of like an adult club penguin- Thett3, describing Tinder
ClassicRobert
Posts: 2,487
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4/26/2014 8:01:15 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/26/2014 12:19:52 AM, Hematite12 wrote:
Well, who pays for the police?

If everyone is acting in their own self interest (the ones who would support privatization would agree with this statement, I would think), then no one will pay for police. Because, there is no incentive for you to pay when you can rely on others to fear for their safety even more and pay. But, they will be thinking the same thing. So, acting in self interest means no law enforcement if it is privatized.

Funding something like the police either requires altruism, which is a shaky foundation for peoples' safety, I would think, OR it requires an official contract of cooperation where some of the money given by each citizen pays for the law enforcement... i.e. what we have now.

Also, what about poor communities? NO ONE would be able to pay for police, so crime rates would go up, and this is a vicious cycle. The poor communities would be even more ruined and be less able to pay for any sort of law enforcement, and so on, until they are basically screwed.

My refutation to Citrakayah is adequate here, so I'll post it here.

That's assuming that no charity work would end up happening, and just as its shaky to base the entire assumption of police protection on altruism, it is similarly shaky to assume that no altruism would end up existing. That being said, we don't really know how this would end up working if the police were privatized. One way that it could end up happening is that firms begin to include police protection under employment contracts as a job benefit. Another way is that homeowners associations would pay for the protection for their neighborhoods, or landlords would pay to protect the area to attract people. Regardless of the system, people probably wouldn't be interested in just hiring a lot of personal security guards, so there would still likely be areas like jurisdictions where the police protect rather than individual people. It would still likely be in the interests of the firms to offer a scalable degree of protection to increase the amount of people able to afford it.

The freeloader effect is real, I'll concede that, but its not nearly as powerful as you seem to think it is. People aren't perfectly rational, self-interested beings. They're mostly rational, largely self-interested beings, and being totally without protection is usually going to be powerful enough to get a significant portion of the populous to pay for the police.

Contracts of cooperation could work, and the fundamental difference between the status quo and that would be that people would still have another firm to go to if the police were acting up, as opposed to now, where that simply isn't the case.
Debate me: Economic decision theory should be adjusted to include higher-order preferences for non-normative purposes http://www.debate.org...

Do you really believe that? Or not? If you believe it, you should man up and defend it in a debate. -RoyLatham

My Pet Fish is such a Douche- NiamC

It's an app to meet friends and stuff, sort of like an adult club penguin- Thett3, describing Tinder
Citrakayah
Posts: 1,500
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4/27/2014 4:51:54 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/26/2014 7:51:05 AM, ClassicRobert wrote:
At 4/26/2014 1:13:08 AM, Citrakayah wrote:

Seems to me you're committing three errors.

First, you don't need competition to eliminate police brutality, you need the police to be able to be held accountable for their actions. That means court systems that are better equipped to deal with police brutality, and it means that we need to equip police with bodyworn cameras (http://www.newscientist.com...). We might also experiment with harsh minimum sentences for police brutality.

These will require reforms, and that won't necessarily happen... but honestly if the police are privatized, it will be because corporate interests can make money off it.

Right, and how long does it take for reforms to happen, and how long will those reforms even last to reduce police brutality if they do end up happening?

I could say the same thing about your reforms.

Once again, due to their monopoly on force, they aren't really accountable to us. We don't live in a society where we can take a vote any time to reform anything we want.

1. Actually, on the state level direct democracy does exist to some extent.
2. Police don't have a monopoly on force. Not completely.

The politicians might decide to vote on something, they might not, and even if they do, it's rare that the vote actually goes through. While competition is sticky, I'd bet my life savings that if the police were privatized, then people would choose to switch firms after the #MyNYPD debacle. You'd find competing firms willing to put cameras on their police officers as measures of good faith to sway consumers, or taking other measures to show the people that they wouldn't be abusing and killing them while their job is to protect them.

Keep in mind that you would have to get the politicians to pass privatization... and you'd have to make it so that it wasn't just the government contracting out the job.

Second, the real problem isn't a lack of competition, it's human psychology. Police officers believe that they, personally, will not be held accountable, or that the people they are being brutal towards are scum and deserve it.

Your model does not hold individual police officers accountable, it holds the entire group accountable... which would seem to be better, but unfortunately it won't seem as "close," and will be more abstract. Therefore it is less likely to be on someone's mind--if I have a camera attached to me, I am more likely to be aware of that than "someone might take a picture of me, and if enough people do this, the company I work for might decrease in popularity, resulting in me being laid off."

This system holds both the individual and the group accountable. It would be a pretty bad choice by the management in the privatized police department to keep brutal policeman who could hurt the business in the job. An individual on the force messes up, the public will hold the entire firm accountable, so that firm either fires the employee and/or makes substantive reforms to the way they do business, or people start switching over to the competition.

Except the general public isn't that reactive to these things. Many companies that have severe problems continue to function anyway. Not to mention that you might have a repeat of the Chik-Fil-A or whatever it's called incident: Beat up someone thought of as a "thug" or a "punk" and you are suddenly a hero. I've seen a lot of people praising Zimmerman as a hero with that exact same sentiment.

Under our current system, people just don't get fired often for police brutality.

Evidence? Not to mention that the cameras would go a long way towards alleviating this problem, because it would provide absolute, clear evidence.

Third--tying in with the second part of the second point--not everyone--or every community--can afford quality police protection. Indeed, under a private police, there is little to stop exploitation of the poor and disenfranchised, who happen to need protection from police brutality the most.

There is, of course, competition in the current model--what is competing are laws and politicians. And under the current model, it is one man one vote--of course, some people have a harder time voting. Your model would only widen the disparity, though.

That's assuming that no charity work would end up happening.

I really don't want to have to depend on charity work for my police protection.

That being said, we don't really know how this would end up working if the police were privatized. One way that it could end up happening is that firms begin to include police protection under employment contracts as a job benefit.

In which case you can't really switch police firms without leaving your job.

Another way is that homeowners associations would pay for the protection for their neighborhoods, or landlords would pay to protect the area to attract people. Regardless of the system, people probably wouldn't be interested in just hiring a lot of personal security guards, so there would still likely be areas like jurisdictions where the police protect rather than individual people. It would still likely be in the interests of the firms to offer a scalable degree of protection to increase the amount of people able to afford it.

In which case you have the best police protection in areas that least need it.

And competition in law and politicians isn't what we're talking about here- we're talking about the people who enforce the law. And no, it isn't "one man, one vote." Referendums aren't exactly common in regards to this sort of thing, or in general.

Police do not exist independently of law and politicians. Where I'm from, we elect the head of the police department anyway.