Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Should the government fund police protection?

with 15 comments

Excellent article at Salon by Michael Lind, which begins:

Now that the president and the Democrats in Congress have set a fall deadline for legislative action on universal police protection for all Americans, battle lines are being drawn on Capitol Hill. On the right are conservative defenders of America’s system of for-profit, private mercenaries. The Democrats are divided among progressives who favor universal, publicly funded police who would protect all citizens against crime, and moderate and conservative Democrats who argue that any citizen security reform should leave America’s existing system of soldiers for hire in place.

"Do we want long wait times when we call for the police, like people in countries with socialized police forces?" Sen. Russell Flack, R-Ga., asked during a floor debate yesterday. "Under our system, we can choose our own police officers, as long as we pay for protection out of our own pockets. Do we want some government bureaucrat choosing the police for us?"

Progressives, however, argue that the American system of privatized policing is no longer affordable. They point to data showing that the U.S. spends twice as much per capita on police protection as countries in Europe and East Asia, where police are public servants paid out of taxes. Although the U.S. pays twice as much for police as the average developed country, more than 40 million Americans remain without police protection because their employers do not pay for crime insurance and they cannot afford to purchase it on their own.

"We could save enormous amounts of money if we had a public police system," argues Caroline Zeal, director of the nonprofit Citizens for Public Police Protection. "Our present crime prevention and punishment system is divided among 50 states with different rules and thousands of private crime insurance companies. And when you look at the mercenaries hired by the crime insurance companies, they come in all shapes and sizes — commandos, samurai, Vikings, centurions and ninjas."

Zeal and other progressives argue that a single-payer, universal police plan would not only standardize methods and uniforms but also allow the government to use its dominant market power to negotiate for prices with police weapons suppliers. In Canada, which has a completely public police system, guns, tear gas, billy clubs, rubber truncheons and brass knuckles cost only half as much as in the U.S.

Other analysts argue that the fee-for-service payment system associated with America’s for-profit police protection industry also contributes to the uniquely high costs of personal security in the United States. Unlike in countries where police officers are on a public payroll and have no incentive to maximize shootings, beatings and arrests, American police mercenaries get reimbursed by tax-favored crime insurance plans every time they chase or apprehend a suspect. Many analysts argue that this perverse incentive structure accounts for what is called "overbeatment" — the high number of Americans who get the living daylights beaten out of them on the streets by soldiers of fortune.

Many progressives claim that quite apart from arguments over costs there is a moral argument for providing universal police protection…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 June 2009 at 10:02 am

15 Responses

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  1. Ok, we have a public police system. In the USA you call 911 you will get a cop or a fireman, period. They may not come to you “right away” but they will come.I have worked with the police in Europe and I have been a police supevisor at five different agencies in south Florida. I also worked with NYPD and NOPD. The cops in Europe go to a National Police Training Insitute and they make a lot more money and they have a lot higher standing in the community. Remember, they have gun contol and the average citizen cannot protect himself/herself. Americans hate the police they hate authority and they hate being told what to do. Our country was built on rebellion. As a cop you don’t understand this for the first ten years and then you get over it. Its not personal. I remember that the European police were armed with submachine guns when over here we were still debating the idea that the police should carrry 9 mm semiautomatic handguns. We have more liberties we pay in more crime and an armed citizenry. Its simply better here. Who are these idiots? This is just another excuse for amed thugs patrolling the streets.

    Dave Turner

    3 October 2009 at 10:05 am

  2. “It’s simply better here”? Have you compared the homicide rate in the US vs. the homicide rate in advanced countries? How is having so many more citizens murdered each year better?


    3 October 2009 at 10:09 am

  3. Ok, I have no problem with a nationalized police force. I have lived in Europe and traveled extensively throughout the world. In Europe the armed Cabanaril in Italy attend a national police college. This is the same in France. What insurance company is working for say the victim of a sexual assault or one of Ted Bundy’s victims? We have a different system here. For example in Italy they don’t use undercover officers, they don’t have the same standards of search and seizure,they don’t have a second amendment, they don’t have a separation of the military and the police.
    They check passports and papers everywhere. I was jogging in Rome in the seventies and always carried papers, you better not mouth off to the nationalized police force in Spain they will shoot you.The homicide rates here have more to do with the fact that we have more freedoms and a non- nationalized police force. You want a nationalized police force?

    Dave Turner

    3 October 2009 at 11:27 am

  4. There is no incentive to shoot as a cop. You lose everything. Go to Europe if want to see coverups.

    Dave Turner

    3 October 2009 at 11:29 am

  5. ” For profit protection industry,” what a joke your kidding. You need to talk to someone in Europe. Want to see rich cops go to France or Spain. You want professionalized police start requiring a college degree first and then pay them as much as you do a utility company lineman/woman or a Star Bucks Manager, people become cops for two reasons: they are helping someone or they are sociopaths. The homicide rates are higher here because of 1. Weapon availability 2. Criminal Gangs 3. a non homogenous society 3. the worship of violence 4. sociopaths 5. degradation of women 6. white collar crime 7. hodge podge laws 8. cross jurisictional struggles 9. lack of a centralized communications system 10. drug use like cocaine, methampetime, and the break down of the family.

    Dave Turner

    3 October 2009 at 11:39 am

  6. Yes its better and safer here.

    Dave Turner

    3 October 2009 at 11:40 am

  7. Who is Caroline Zeal and the Citzens for Public Protection? She is not anywhere other than this article and two more exactly like it on the internet. The same people that want protection are the same people that hate the police. The police work for the public, they are already pubic servants (slaves). They are a reflection of society. I want to know more about this other than people whining because someone is telling them what do do.

    Dave Turner

    3 October 2009 at 11:47 am

  8. Thats rich cops are “soldiers of fortune”. Ever been in the military? They are really, realllly overpaid, right? Not……….,

    Dave Turner

    3 October 2009 at 11:51 am

  9. Chase someone, wreck, kill someone, in a pursuit, go to jail look at the two officers in Tennessee, and the one in California. WE DON’T CHASE OR PURSUE ANYMORE UNLESS ITS A FORCIBLE FELONY, PERIOD. That also means going to your complaint, or alarm fast.

    Dave Turner

    3 October 2009 at 11:53 am

  10. Private crime insurance companies. Who pays the victims of child abuse, domestic violence, murders…., private insurance companies. Thats ridiculous.

    Dave Turner

    3 October 2009 at 11:55 am

  11. Go to France ask the next Gendarme you see why he does not go into certain areas in Tolouse, Irun, or Paris? Ask them how many people died last year in immigration and race riots. Ask him if you should travel to “those” neighborhoods unarmed?

    Dave Turner

    3 October 2009 at 12:01 pm

  12. More people die in traffic accidents in the USA than in homicides. Want to cut down on homicides here, increase the penalites for domestic violence and violations of restraining orders. Make it easier for women to get TIs. Give more financial support to women involved in domestic abuse. Criminalize interstate child support violations, make it easier for women to be armed.

    Dave Turner

    3 October 2009 at 12:04 pm

  13. The quoted matter is a satire, contrasting our attitude toward healthcare by transforming the discussion to one about police protection. And, of course, we do have socialized police protection in that the government pays our police forces (though not enough, I’ll admit), rather than private industry (though private industry has certainly made inroads into the prison system and into the military).

    Very interesting points about the difference in allowable tactics, country by country. Not allowing undercover operations?? I’m amazed. And I know that in some other countries there’s a constant request for “papers, please,” which strikes a bad note with most Americans.

    On the whole, I think Americans admire (and, perhaps, fear a little) the police. Certainly we read books like Blue Blood in admiration.

    And, no, I do not want the police force to be “nationalized.” We still like local and state management.


    3 October 2009 at 12:05 pm

  14. Yeah, I’ve read that the police in France totally avoid the ghettos or enter them in (large) force.


    3 October 2009 at 12:08 pm

  15. I wonder whether the ready availability of guns in the US has anything to do with the homicide rate? Certainly the rates in countries that have strict controls on gun ownership is lower, but that might not be the cause. The number of handguns sold in the US, for example, is astonishing. And handguns are not generally thought of as hunting weapons.


    3 October 2009 at 12:11 pm

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