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How Private Security Officers Perceive Themselves Relative to Police

NCJ Number
Security Journal Volume: 23 Issue: 3 Dated: July 2010 Pages: 192-201
John Manzo
Date Published
July 2010
14 pages
This study examined the perspective of private security officers in relation to that of traditional public police.
Efforts to analyze and describe the ever more salient phenomenon of private security have promoted the creation of certain neologisms, such as 'parapolice' and 'quasipolice', to capture the notion that this privatized, commodified variant of uniformed social control is not 'police' and must be contrasted with legitimate sources of governance. However, even though such critical insights are often accompanied by or in service to empirical investigations of private security, the focus of these has rarely been the perspectives of workers in private security, and their own specific orientations to themselves vis-a-vis police. Through inspection of open-ended interviews with 29 security officers, all employed in Canadian shopping malls, as well as analysis of narratives from online forums, this paper seeks to uncover how security personnel construe themselves relative to police. Findings suggest that interviewees recognize and appreciate fundamental differences between police and security, but also that they report, in nuanced and unanticipated ways, import overlaps and even interdependencies between their tasks and those of the police. References (Published Abstract)