Privatizing Police Forces Essay

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Q1. Do you think that privatization of public services is good? Why or why not?

Privatizing public services is often promoted as a way of improving state services through competition. Unfortunately, what works in capitalist theory is seldom true in practice. First of all, unlike the government, for-profit private services must be profitable. This can result in less-than- ethical actions, for example, in terms of how companies make use of the environment or carry out their basic functions. Secondly, in the case of security services such as the police, there is ambiguity to whom the employees are beholden, to the Constitution which upholds the rights of citizens (including to be protected from egregious police actions) or to the owners of the organization and the private organization’s policies and shareholders (Lessenberry, 2016).

Q2. What are the political questions at stake with the privatization of police?

Privatizing the police is popular amongst many conservative legislators as a way of having high levels of law enforcers while curtailing costs (Lessenberry, 2016). But while it is true that cost and availability is a concern that has often been addressed via privatization, social equity remains a concern (Gollust & Jacobson, 2006). Since poor communities are more apt to need the police or to become victims of police violence, a lack of accountability is of great concern for communities with few resources to self-advocate.

Q3. Is the privatization of police forces comparable to the privatization of other public services, say, mail delivery, or for services? Why or why not?

In some limited instances, it could be argued that privatization of certain services can result in greater efficiency. For example, competition from alternative mail delivery services has given consumers more options. But even then, it does not automatically result in lower costs and greater efficiency (Goodman & Loveman, 1991). And because of the need to protect citizen’s rights in a manner which is not necessarily efficient, cost-saving, or popular, privatization of the police is not comparable, and is likely to circumvent the goals of making the justice system fairer and more humane, commensurate with the dictates of the constitution.


Gollust, S. E., & Jacobson, P. D. (2006). Privatization of public services: organizational reform efforts in public education and public health. American Journal of Public Health, 96(10), 1733–1739. Retrieved from:

Goodman, J. & Loveman, G. (1991). Does privatization serve the public interest? HBR. Retrieved from:

Lessenberry, K. (2017). Privatizing the police would be a dangerous policy. Michigan Radio. Retrieved from: dangerous-policy

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