Oakland Neighborhoods Crowd-Fund Private Police

Credit: Rennett-Stowe-CC-BY-NCCredit: Rennett-Stowe-CC-BY-NCResidents in a wealthier part of Oakland, California have turned to private security forces to their neighborhoods safe.

Oakland, already a perennial candidate for the most dangerous city in the US, has seen an uptick in robberies over the last year. Complementing this problem is the fact that the Oakland Police Department is short 200 officers.

Residents of the Rockridge neighborhoods took the matter into their own hands, set up three crowd-sourcing campaigns, and hired VMA Security Group to conduct 12-hour, 6-day-a-week patrols.

NPR reports that one resident, Dakin Ferris, was inspired to take action after a string of robberies hit close to his home, making his family feel vulnerable. He brought 600 households together, each of them paying $20 a month for the private patrols.

Private security in businesses and college campuses is common enough, but the idea of private patrols in public areas can be hazier and can raise questions, since different jurisdictions have different laws and regulations about what a private security personnel are allowed to do. For example, some community patrols are armed; Lower Rockridge's is not.

Some neighborhood residents have voiced concerns about accountability. Nicole Aruda, another Rockridge resident, told NPR that "if there are problems with patrols in the neighborhood, we have no one to go to because we're not contractees,” and that the decision-making process undemocratically “left out hundreds, if not thousands, of neighbors who were not part of the discussion.” Understandably, VMA Security is only obligated to protect the members of the community who pay for the service, and presumably Aruda could still call the police if she saw problems with the private security.

Similar experiments in other cities have not always lasted. For example, a similar arrangement in Philadelphia recently fell apart after less than a month of patrolling. Tensions arose between police and private security. There were also allegations that the private security overstepping their authority and driving unregistered vehicles while on duty.

But the private patrols in Lower Rockridge have the support of the police. "We welcome the extra set of eyes and ears," Oakland Police Department spokeswoman Johnna Watson tells NPR. "Any help that we can receive to reduce crime in our city is good for all of us."

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  • Heroic Mulatto||

    But the private patrols in Lower Rockridge have the support of the police. "We welcome the extra set of eyes and ears,"

    ... until they threaten our job security.

  • Steve G||

    Alt-Text Level = Intern

  • Rich||

    "We welcome the extra set of eyes and ears," Oakland Police Department spokeswoman Johnna Watson tells NPR.

    Except, of course, for that Zimmerman fucker.

  • Loki||

    Residents of the Rockridge neighborhoods took the matter into their own hands...

    What's really going on here is they didn't like AG Heady Lamar's choice of new sheriff.

  • Coogan||

    That's HEDLEY!

  • Jquip||

    "if there are problems with patrols in the neighborhood, we have no one to go to because we're not contractees,”

    Uh yeh... You can go to the police with it. Which is something you can't do with the police, since bringing charges against the police brings you harassment from the police. Leaving you no options at all.

  • Loki||

    There you go again, bringing up logically sound and reasonable counter arguments.

    B-b-but, privatized security is teh bad because... uhm... err... KKKORPORASHUNZ!!!!11!!11!!!!!1

  • Coogan||

    I'm sure the Koch brothers are behind this somehow.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Or, become a contractee.

  • ||

    Not to mention, that you can defend yourself if you're being assaulted by private security (UNARMED security in this case), something you actually CAN'T do with police. And you can always sue if necessary.

    That statement is completely ignorant and obviously made without any thought whatsoever, though it doesn't surprise me coming from NPR, whose personnel seem to think anything non-government working properly is akin to cold fusion.

  • ||

    Those cops work in Oakland???
    Good Luck to them.

  • RussianPrimeMinister||

    Some neighborhood residents have voiced concerns about accountability.

    You know what's really great about private security firms?

    1) You can fire them!
    2) You can hire their competition!
    3) You can hold them accountable for their actions!
    4) You can choose not to pay for and use their services!
    5) There's a huge %chance they won't shoot your dog!

    There's no downside to a private security force. At all. Why this isn't the way the entire country works is beyond me.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Well, the potential downsides of private security are the same as with police, only likely less extreme. For example, fat security guards sitting on their ass all night... but you can fire them.

  • ||

    The down side is poor people won't be able to afford to pay these private companies.

  • Christophe||

    There's "private security as charity" happening in Detroit. Reason reported on it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnPZ1yuoFIc

  • albo||

    Who'd they choose? WorldBeat Security? Metacops? Or The Enforcers? It makes a difference to your average burbclave resident.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    "the decision-making process undemocratically “left out hundreds, if not thousands, of neighbors who were not part of the discussion.”"

    Go undemocratically suck it, bitch. This is an individual property rights issue: If the security stays on private property they are authorized to be on and public property, then there is no problem.

  • Copernicus||

    Snowcrash has arrived. Right on time.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    "driving unregistered vehicles while on duty"

    Just like Somalia!

  • SKR||

    It sounds like someone worked up a number six on them.

  • Jayburd||

    Who needs private cops when you have Batkid. http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanha.....foundation

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