The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Resolved: The police should be privatized

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/1/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 849 times Debate No: 97540
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (9)
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Police services should be private for the same reason that health care, food production, and housing should be private; it is more efficient. When firms operate for profit they are incentivized to satisfy consumers' preferences quickly, cheaply, and efficiently. If they fail to satisfy consumers, they will quickly cease to exist. Examples of these incentives are evident in our everyday lives. If I order something from Amazon and it gets lost in the mail, they will send me a new item with no questions asked. If I have a dispute with the IRS, even if its their fault, the process will be a nightmare. Amazon will bend over backwards to keep my business. What incentive does the IRS have to be helpful in the least? When the government provides a service, they will generally establish a monopoly. Thus, it does not have to fear competition.

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.


I accept.
Debate Round No. 1


Good luck.


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.
Debate Round No. 2


Note: Although Ayn Rand is my biggest intellectual influence, believe it or not, she is a moderate compared to my biggest economic and political influence: Murray Rothbard (the guy in my profile pic). Rothbard argued for complete anarchy, or anarcho-capitalism. There have been many theorists following him and anarcho-capitalism has become a very well-thought-out and nuanced theory. For brevity's sake, I will not argue for anarchy here, although I believe it is the ultimate expression and most logical end-point of "small government " tendencies. For our purposes hold everything else about the world and the government equal, just privatize the police.
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.


What you are supporting is a privatization of laws, bypassing the constitution, in addition to a private police force. I’d argue that your position is a very giant leap towards anarchy.

Pro states, “they (private police) would be licensed by, and beholden to the state just like cops are now.”

Who would hold these licensed private police accountable to the law without a government police force to enforce these laws? As you have conceded below they would be are accountable to their customers alone and will ignore laws that become inconvenient for them.

Why would they not ignore laws against violence, corruption or sexual abuse etc when it becomes convenient for the highest paying company? You’ve simply asserted that they would not. This is akin to saying no rich individual or corporation would have an incentive to be corrupt. Clearly they do. Why would a company not gain an advantage by assassinating a rival, committing extortion or even keeping a harem of sex slaves.

What happens when a police force supported mainly by Coke suspecting corruption over at Pepsi corporation? Do they attack the Pepsi police and get to the bottom of it or simply plant evidence of corruption?

1. The problem is private police have a bad set of incentives and your suggesting a far worse set of incentives; in your scenario they’re motivated to enforce only laws that support their customers and this is exactly like the mafia.

What would the police force of a drug cartel look like? It’s estimated that violence due to drugs includes around 40-50% in Mexico [1]. This is largely between competing cartel security forces because they in competition with each other and the police is not adequate. Note that you did not stipulate that the laws needed to changed before the transition to private police. In fact, you’ve assumed the opposite would likely be true.

(take a look at the harm alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical lobbies have done to addicts without legal recourse before you legalize drugs.)

You have not explained why private prisons would not continue the trend of removing ‘undesirable’, dysfunctional elements of society with poor or non-existent. 37% of Americans still oppose gay marriage and these are clustered in certain demographics and certain states. What pressure would these citizens and companies (hey Chick-fil-A, I used to be a regular customer) or religious lobbies place on their police with respect to harassment of homosexuals under the guise of religious freedom? The same is true for abortion, racism, the right to bear arms and virtually all liberal and conservative perspectives alike.

You’re giving the majority the power to throw out the constitution, the bill of rights and glut supreme court decisions directly to the majority or rich minority and you are advocating anarchy here. The people have a real responsibility to be a check on the government with anything from from voting to private militias. In the same way the government is obligated to protect the minority from the majority.

Again you have conceded that customers would ignore laws they do not like.

Pro stated “Private police would enforce laws only to the extent that consumers prefer.”

2. “There would be no monetary incentive for them to harass non-customers.” I disagree, there is an incentive to harass non-customers in order gain their business exactly like rival mafia bosses have harassed non-customers for protection money in the past [5]. You would have competing firms with different interpretations of the law and rival motivation enforcing these laws in the same conflicted area.

I’ll agree that there are more private security agents than police but they are accountable to the public police and have nothing like the power given to police [6]. For instance, they cannot trespass on private property, search mail, impersonate a police officer, wiretap, film private areas, record private conversation, run a credit check, make an arrest etc etc. You’re proposing that we give them these powers.

They are currently glorified mall cops subject to the police [7].

I’m not sure why you assert that courts could effectively arbitrate between two firms. A more successful firm would be better at keeping any information that negatively effects their customer out of the courts. Companies that can afford massive legal teams are already a major issue inhibiting justice for the poor.

3. “It is hard to imagine that private police, who have no access to tax dollars, would find it profitable to harass non-customers.” It’s extremely profitable to harass non-customers such as rival drug empire’s police infiltrating a rival firm. Rival prostitution rings could raid a rival groups to gain and advantage and seize assets. What happens when these rival police firms collide and each is incentivized to murder the other and/or expose the corruption of a rival non-violent police agency?

4. “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.” This is just an assertion and who would hold these police to the parameters of the law? The police paid off by corporation A or corporation B?

5. “Police would certainly be authorized to use violence in certain situations, namely to defend their customers.” See 4, who would enforce these laws except rival police firms in competition with a massive conflict in interest?

No, rival competing food projection services have the power of force in the exact same area. They don’t all have their own police with a major conflict of interest and a bias toward they’re own firms. Comparing food production with the legal application of force is simply not reasonable.

Earlier you pointed out there are many private security agencies vastly outnumbering police that could potentially serve as a check on police corruption which is a more sensible option.

  1. Let’s be honest, rival competing companies would essentially own the police.

There is a major gap of income between the rich and the poor in the United States [8] (I attribute this to mostly lobbyists not capitalism). When the rich own the police we would have serious problems as I’ve demonstrated.

  1. Your social experiment has already been performed through police corruption.

It’s common knowledge that there have been many instances of police corruption where whole police agencies have been sold to the highest bidder in the United States such as the mob in Chicago etc. You have conceded that there will likely be police firms paid by criminal organizations such as drug kingpins. The results have been an increase in violence, theft and extortion covered up by these police agencies.

  1. China, Russia and Iran (oh my?) do not have police that you can purchase.

You’re describing a situation where it is possible to by police. What would our wealthy cold war frenemies do with this when it is certainly not possible to buy police in their countries.

If you thought drone strikes were bad, wait until a foreign power manages to funnel money through corrupt organizations and buy your law enforcement officers.

The job of the FBI and CIA would become a complete cluster. White collar crime and terrorism were so much simpler when police weren’t available to be hired to the highest bidder.









Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by Dujec 2 years ago
Sounds great. I always have an opinion too which is usually I don't know, could you explain that? No problem on the last round, life happens. I think liberty is the most important concept to emphasize. When we say 'I should' or 'I'm obligated to do this' it's like getting dragged along by life. I always try to understand that I can do whatever the hell I want. It's the consequences that should drive us as opposed to a sense of duty.
Posted by ColorodoKoolAid 2 years ago
Sorry I didn't get around to posting my last argument. I'm glad I could discuss this with someone who understands and appreciates liberty. If you ever want to debate again I have an opinion on everything.
Posted by Dujec 2 years ago
I think you had a great argument here. I think anarchy may, in fact, be ideal but we are not ready for that. It's an ideal state to approach, like an asymptotic curve. I'd agree with Thoreau, "I heartily accept the motto, that government is best which governs least, which I also believe, that government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have."

The position is a lot stronger for Pro, imo, with a few qualifiers like a single government and separate elected police in different zones this is a more. Great topic to discuss.
Posted by Dujec 2 years ago
I enjoyed your response but you haven't convinced me. Planning on busting out with research and facts/figures next round. The discussion has me thinking and that's the great ting about debates imo.

@Canis off the top of my head I believe we imprison around 1% of our population and I'm thinking that this is near double what other countries do. Our 'rehabilitation programs' are also kind of a joke but we don't imprison most of our population. I've spent a few days in jail and that may, in fact, be the norm here. Googling it.
Posted by ColorodoKoolAid 2 years ago
Not sure how that relates to this debate. But yes, "we" put alot of people in jail. About half are there for drug crimes; a problem that private police would virtually eliminate.
Posted by canis 2 years ago
I am not from the US..But it seeems "you" put most of the popolation in jail.."Somebody" has to make some $$$ fore it to make sense.
Posted by Dujec 2 years ago
Oh, you're sticking with your opener. GL to you to then.
Posted by ColorodoKoolAid 2 years ago
Should be easy then.
Posted by Overnight 2 years ago
A lot of logical flaws in this argument. I'll consider.
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