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Managing the Boundary Between Public and Private Policing

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2014
28 pages

This paper provides a framework for police executives to use in examining their interactions with private policing organizations, and in determining how to maximize benefits while minimizing risks.


This paper provides a clear framework that police executives can use to examine their interactions with private policing and to determine more readily how to maximize the benefits to society while minimizing the associated risks. The paper includes four hypothetical scenarios that illustrate common dilemmas and challenges that confront police executives. Each scenario raises a different combination of benefits and risks to be recognized and managed. It is evident that contributions by private police can and should contribute to public purposes. However, the risks associated with private policing cannot be ignored and there are grounds for concern. Each one of these grounds for concern, in each situation in which they arise, represents work to be done by public police. The police profession should treat these concerns as policy and operational challenges to be managed rather than as grounds for disengagement. Public police need to understand clearly the motivations and capabilities of each contributor, develop an understanding of the whole system and what it provides, and do their best to make sure the overall provision of security aligns with their public purpose.

Date Published: September 1, 2014