ethical concerns of public policeman

Posted: March 27, 2013 by garrettkicksbutt in Accountability in Private Policing, Uncategorized

My blog post will review normative consequences of private policing, particularly its ethical concern and outcomes. I will attempt to explain these practices in terms of ethics behind private policing and I will also use my own experience as a Downtown Ambassador to give a perspective on the behaviors of a public policeman.

One term that caught my eye in the readings Ethics and Security was ‘uniform justice for all’. This term was used in the context of how a lack of consideration for such topics was rife in public policing bodies. Private policing has a mandate to ‘limit participation’ and exclude on the basis of ‘assumed good or bad’ creating an idea held by themselves and those they police, that security is about exclusion and gates. Private policing is said to lack of any overall ethical goal in their practice. This is because someone has paid for them to patrol their property and not for ‘public good’. Do the young security guards, who unknowingly take up the task of perceived public good, know of the impact they are having on their own ethical standing? The answer is no.

My experience as a public policeman, working for the downtown ambassadors was a good one. I was called to business to apply soft pressure in order to remove unwanted characters from the premises. At no point did I ask myself whether or not what I was doing had any impact on the persons I was policing. The orientation in becoming a security guard involved what not to do such as use any force, try and police in public space and searching people. This way of training did not lend to any ethical matters or concerns that might be involved in being a public policeman. I believe if such instruction would give it would cause a different outlook in the security guards. They might begin to see themselves as the one who polices and is responsible for the security of others instead of the guy called to shovel out the drunks.

Is the answer to having public security held accountable to crack down on legislation and impose large fines for any violation? Should security guards be held accountable at the individual level? I thing before we make any huge sweeping changes in legislation, we need to inform the people doing the job of policing. Instead of focus what is ‘wrong’ during the orientation into becoming a private policeman and effort should be made to teach the young security guards what their job really entails. By instilling in them certain ideas around security and what the term really means, private policing agencies can be sure that human rights violations and the like will be much less likely, as the potential perpetrators will know why what they are doing is really wrong.

  1. garrettkicksbutt says:

    If you replace public policeman with private police man then my post makes more sense.

  2. Mike Larsen says:

    This is an interesting post, and I appreciate the inclusion of commentary based on your personal experiences. Your argument echoes Van Buuren’s discussion of the implications of a lack of organizational values or sense of mission in private policing. At a deeper level, it reflects the tendency of the public (and many criminologists) to regard private policing as something other than policing, and therefore undeserving of the ethical baggage that is normally associated with the policing field. When we step back, it seems problematic that we have created a diverse sector defined by the provision of commodified social control but bereft of a strong ethical framework.

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