Benjamin Williams – January 17, 2023
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In the face of rampant crime, many individuals and businesses turn to private security as an alternative to government protection. One example is the Karco gas station in Philadelphia, which has hired heavily armed guards from Pennsylvania S.I.T.E. Agents to patrol its premises. The guards are equipped with Kevlar vests and either AR-15s or shotguns, and the owner claims that since hiring the guards, the gas station has been free of loitering and other criminal activity.
The failure of state police and the justice system to effectively protect citizens is what has led many people to turn to private security and the use of firearms for self-defense. In some states, restrictive gun control laws and limitations on self-defense like “duty to retreat” laws have only further contributed to this trend. As a result, many individuals and communities have been forced to take matters into their own hands to feel safe and secure.
Hans-Herman Hoppe, in his work The Private Production of Defense, argues that the provision of security is best left to the private sector. He argues that private security firms have a stronger incentive to protect their clients, as their reputation and continued business depends on it. In contrast, state police are not accountable to the individuals they are supposed to protect, and therefore have less incentive to protect them effectively.
Economist Bruce L. Benson also argues in favor of private security, citing empirical evidence that shows private security to be more efficient and effective than state police. Private security firms can tailor their services to the specific needs of their clients, allowing for more effective protection. Additionally, private security firms can be held accountable through the market, with clients able to choose which firm to hire based on their performance.
Benson observes that the private security industry has seen a growth in demand and sophistication in the last few decades. This is due to the increasing use of technology such as closed-circuit television and laser technology, as well as the training of security personnel to take advantage of these technologies. Private residential and business developments are being designed with security in mind
Studies of the consequences of private-sector crime control activities are rare, but several informative ones exist. One such study, conducted in the ’80s, examined the actions and effects of the private security force in Starrett City, a high-crime area of Brooklyn. The study found that the private security force in the area was much more effective at reducing crime than the public security forces. This is likely due to the increased level of training and development of private security personnel, as well as the use of advanced security technologies.
Patel’s decision to hire guards to protect his business is a prime example of the benefits of private security. Not only did it effectively protect his business, but it also allowed him to choose the level of protection he deemed necessary. The failure of state police to adequately protect his business and property left him with no other option than to turn to the private sector. As the US continues to face harsh crime waves and criminal justice corruption, the realization of the public that private security is viable and necessary is a silver lining.
Originally published at Mises.org.
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