Friday, December 30, 2011

The Fowley, MN security debate

Two good Strib editorial pieces will fill you in here (contra) and here (pro).

I'm approaching from the perspective of a political radical, a heretical marxist, and a security officer when I consider this controversial issue. That's part of my disclaimer.

And part of how my marxism has deviated from all those endlessly arguing, worthless factions is that I don't think "The State" should control everything. And I don't think the market is perfect, either. So there's that.

Personally, I applaud experimentation. Fowley is brave in examining new models of public safety. The finance sector-sponsored recession is making unique demands on our traditional institutions and until we as communities can reclaim our losses (ha! right....), we've got an opportunity to find new ways to operate. I think that's great.

It bugs me when people put their ideology before the well-being of society. It's putting the cart before the horse. Some radical lefties might say, "Worker's patrols can secure the streets." Sure, they could, like they did in the early Soviet Union and Minneapolis 1933 and plenty of other revolutionary situations. But they don't just spring up out of the ground.

I like the security industry. Security professionals can do a lot of things the regular cops just don't have time to do. Why pull out the big guns before you know if a situation warrants it? Traffic stops, parking or curfew violations, barking dogs or loud radios ... let public security handle it, save your cops for the domestic abuses and armed robberies that they're qualified for.

Any number of OWS protesters would probably agree that they'd rather have been monitored by security folks than arbitrarily brutalized by the NYPD or other baton-happy riot goons. You don't need cops at a protest until things get hairy.

Using security officers for routine, low-hazard stuff adds a layer of finesse to civilian law. If it saves over-worked cops from having to work too much overtime, and saves the city from having to pay too much overtime, that's cool. I say, let the community decide what to do about safety and security. If they get some buy-in, they're more likely to view law enforcement as a partner than an oppressor, and that's the way a community ought to run.


comrade x said...

So you're saying security firms in the private sector can handle protestors better than public police departments?
I need clarification.

Dresden Scott said...

I think there's more potential there. Security guards are often "closer to the people." They get different training, ideally in investigation, reporting, and de-escalation. There's a lot of work to be done to transform security into a profession, and of course we're speaking in abstractions, but in general security guards aren't trained to see everyone they encounter as potential criminals.