Friday, February 24, 2006

The police syndicate

An unusual story in the London Free Press today reports that some London banks are hiring private security guards to protect their premises in the wake of the Camouflage Bandit who has robbed 19 banks across southern Ontario in the past two months. The action by the banks is not what makes the story unusual — if I'm not mistaken, private security guards used to be a common fixture in banks. Instead, the Free Press for some inexplicable reason canvassed the reaction of London police chief Murray Faulkner:

"We cannot recommend security for banks," Faulkner said.
After which he contradicts the disapproval with a confused equivocation that ends up suggesting that private security guards would be effective:
"I think the banks have taken this on themselves, knowing there is a rash of robberies. How they make that determination is up to them. The security people are there as a preventative strategy, rather an apprehension strategy.

"It would be my summation to suggest a bank robbery would not occur where security is on duty."
Faulkner's hesitancy about approving the use of security guards is evidently not based on their role in the deterrance of crime. Nor is it likely a compassionate concern for the competitive disadvantage of poor banks that cannot afford security. Murray Faulkner represents a closed shop on policing services that unions could only envy, and like other monopolies cannot fail to see competition as a danger. The police force's syndicate is in most aspects of its services exceedingly secured by law, but Faulkner is careful to suggest that noone should even consider exercising any of their privileges:
Faulkner said police expect security guards to be "great eyes to quickly read the situation and respond," but he said they shouldn't get involved in stopping a robbery in progress. He said a guard could not only thwart a robbery but also collect important evidence. Police would expect a guard to call 911, notice what the robber is wearing and the car in which he flees.

"What we don't want is an individual to go in and corner the robber. Then what happens is you've got a real mess on your hands (if the robber has a gun)."
…which would make bank security guards nothing more than an expensive accessory. Surely banks already expect that their own staff would be alert enough "to call 911, notice what the robber is wearing and the car in which he flees."

For modest proposals for implementing private policing based on existing models in Switzerland, the United States and, yes, Canada, check out Chapter 6 of Home on the Urban Range by Filip Palda, available in pdf.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

"What we don't want is an individual to go in and corner the robber." Or any other kind of criminal, based upon what was reported with respect to the recent sexual assault of a Petro-Can employee.