The days when you could mess with the rent-a-cop may be over, at least in Chicago:

Aldermen Anthony Beale (9th) and John Pope (10th) said they're putting the finishing touches on an ordinance that would mark a precedent-setting expansion of the powers of private security officers hired by local property owners…

They want to empower Total Security Management of Oakbrook Terrace to write parking tickets, moving violations and citations for offenses including loitering, littering and graffiti.

Police union officials said they plan to "fight [the ordinance] all the way," calling it dangerous for security personnel, unsafe for citizens, and more work for actual police.

In the past 14 years, some Chi-town residents have "established special service areas in which property owners pay higher taxes to augment police protection." Currently, the private security guards can detain folks, but little more.

Beale and Pope said the ordinance was about "improving the quality of life, not invading the turf of uniformed officers" and giving the "community more control over illegal activity."

Here's hoping Beale and Pope get a chance to put the "community" in "community policing." Because if the ordinance passes, perhaps those "Neighborhood Watch" signs won't look so laughable.