In 2012, the community of Sharpstown, Texas, made the controversial decision not to renew its contract with the local police department and instead hire a private security firm to combat crime.
Since SEAL Security Solutions took over law enforcement in Sharpstown, crime has reportedly dropped by 61 percent in just 20 months.
James Alexander, director of operations for SEAL Security Solutions said, “Since we’ve been in there, an independent crime study that they’ve had done [indicates] we’ve reduced the crime by 61 percent,” according to Guns.com.
In addition to the apparent increase in efficiency, the private firm is reportedly saving taxpayers roughly $200,000 each year — even though the community is getting more patrol officers than before.
"On a constable patrol contract, it’s either a 70/30 or an 80/20. Meaning they say they patrol your community 70 percent of the time, [while] 30 percent of the time they use for running calls out of your area or writing reports," Alexander said.
He continued: “The second thing that drastically reduces the crime is that we do directed patrols, meaning we don’t just put an officer out there and say ‘here, go patrol.’ We look at recent crime stats, and we work off of those crime stats. So if we have hotspots in those areas say for that month, we focus and concentrate our efforts around those hotspots.”
The SEAL officers also don’t “receive the same protection, as we are in the private sector,” according to Alexander. He argues that leads to better accountability because they have to worry about keeping their jobs.
Of course, privatizing police forces has raised concerns as well. The Washington Post reports:
The growth is mirrored nationally in the ranks of private police, who increasingly patrol corporate campuses, neighborhoods and museums as the demand for private security has increased and police services have been cut in some places.
The trend has raised concerns in Virginia and elsewhere, because these armed officers often receive a small fraction of the training and oversight of their municipal counterparts. Arrests of private police officers and incidents involving SCOPs overstepping their authority have also raised concerns.
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This story has been updated.