The real cost of private police forces

If only…

I walk into Kroger on Wayne Ave., and there he is, armed, and probably a lot more dangerous than he looks. The private security officer. Kroger pays for him, and that cost is reflected in my grocery bill.

Family Dollar on Wayne, despite multiple robberies, including one where a gun was fired inches away from a manager’s head– pays for a private cop for a few weeks then stops- because if they had to build his pay into their product costs- apparently, people would stop shopping there.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped Miami Valley Hospital from having its own private police force. Note- I used the word “police” not security guard. Sure, we’ll just add it to your bill, which we make up as we feel fit, one price for you, another price for you, and yet another price for someone else.

The University of Dayton has a police department, too. More like a secret service. Get arrested by them as a student, and we’ll deal with you in our secret court and our secret system, even if you were committing a felony. A country of our own apparently.

The rise of private police forces and hired gun security services is a relatively new thing. The real question is should these private armies really have legal standing? And, why are they necessary in the first place?

Some blame the cost of unions and pensions of the real police. Others say crime is rising and we have to protect our fiefdoms.

The reality is that society is breaking down and we’re blissfully ignoring the warning signs.

When the City of Dayton decided that “creating economic opportunity” was more important than essential city services, money started flowing to places like CityWide Development, the Downtown Dayton Partnership, the Dayton Development Coalition, its own internal Department of Economic Development- and then throw in the insane waste of tax dollars buying up real estate that then stopped producing taxes while they sit on it until someone wants to have it for a song…. and dance, promising “Jobs!”

Our police force has basically fallen in half since I moved into the city in 1986. The city hasn’t gotten geographically smaller, and the population didn’t drop by half either, so less police have to deal with the same distances, a few less people, and an economy that keeps making things more difficult to stay on the right side of the law (poverty and crime are closely related).

Take all the money that we’ve spent on the fixing up of the Arcade (the last time- before we sold it to Tom Danis for $36,000), the Arcade Tower ($37 million- later sold off in foreclosure) and the countless little pieces of property that we bought without any public use (no one has explained why the city spent over $100,000 for the plot of land that is now known as Garden Station 20 years or so ago). The latest fiasco at the Cliburn Manor site is only another example of tax dollars diverted from public uses to benefit private parties. At some point, this has to stop.

It’s kind of weird that the biggest tax-exempt organizations in Dayton- are also big employers- and also the owners of the largest private cop shops (Sinclair also has one, but, it’s quasi-government as is Five Rivers Metro Parks which you can add to the list). Suppose both of them paid taxes instead of for their private police forces- and Dayton added another 60 cops to the streets? Cut out Sinclair’s cops and add another 20 or so? Instead of spending $5 million trying to acquire real estate for Kroger to build a new building at Wayne and Wyoming- had another 20 cops on the street.

Now, once you’ve added another 100 or so cops, Dayton doesn’t seem safer, it is safer. Prices at Kroger and Family Dollar and Miami Valley Hospital are lower- because they don’t have to hire a private army to protect them. Tax payers aren’t getting fleeced in phony real estate deals either- that often benefit these big employers as well.

And, guess what, you even created 100 new jobs in Dayton. Ones that protect my business, my home and my peace of mind. We know that the police officers who respond to a crime are well trained, accountable, and ultimately responsible to us- the taxpayer.

And if you need a further reason to justify the ending of these private police forces, remember, Hitler had his own private police force, too.

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