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  • Writer's pictureRamel Lee

Community Owned Public Service

“The police are the community and the community are the police” – Sir Robert Peel

The community being the police is one of the fundamental principles of policing. However, American policing fundamentals have not considered the entire population as part of the community. The indifference of to life and lack of respect to the black community has led to the desire for the community to assume some of the public safety responsibility on their own. While acknowledging policing is a necessary function of society, policing has not been applied equally throughout all communities. Community Owned Public Safety operates under the premise that municipality police should be restricted to the functions that require life saving response and investigative duties.

All preventive and order maintenance function can be performed by community controlled privately owned public safety service providers. Preventive functions include: property protection, traffic enforcement, entry and crowd control. Order maintenance functions include: quality of life violations, suspicious persons/vehicle, infrastructure in poor state of repair.

The benefits of Community Owned Public Safety is that community defines what is quality of life. Quality of life should not be cookie cutter. Guys hanging out on a stoop during a nice summer day maybe considered normal in one community, while in another considered a nuisance. Community Owned Public Safety is also preventative, rather than reactive. If the community deems a building to be a particular problem, they can direct their privately owned public safety service provider to provide entry control for that building, whereas the police will patrol when they can and will respond to any calls for service, after the fact.

The detriments of Community Owned Public Safety are that public safety is left up to citizens not backed by the authority of a municipality. Although enforcement would not be a primary function of the private public safety provider, it would be almost impossible to conduct enforcement without being under the color of state. If people posing problems to the community do not adhere to direction from the private public safety service providers, the alternative is to call the police. For Community Owned Public Safety to work, it would require total buy-in and unwavering commitment from the community.

The community can have control of their public safety by following these steps:

1. Develop a community body that will be responsible for contracting and being the point of contact for the private public safety service provider

2. Define the boundaries of the community

3. Develop a comprehensive request for proposal. The proposal should spell out the following:

a. Activities to be performed

b. Uniforms & weapons

c. Definition of quality of life

d. Quality control standards

e. Transparency Standards

f. Accountability Standards

g. Level of readiness

h. Amount of training

i. Amount of insurance

j. Ability to terminate

k. Hiring requirements

4. Obtain funding

5. Memorandum of Understanding with municipality police

Community Owned Public Safety gives the community considerable control of their public safety. Private organizations can be more easily held accountable for their performance. Additionally, private organizations goal is amazing customer service; they will put the serve back into serve and protect. The request for proposal process will allow the community to pick the service provider that best fits their needs.

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