LAST EDIT November 8th, 2023
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This summer, a wave of controversy surged across the media throughout California. A San Francisco Wallgreens security officer faced accusations of excessive force—an issue that ignited street protests even as the District Attorney chose not to prosecute. As events unfolded, an observant person might have noticed something really very unusual: California celebrities, normally rushing out to pander to the crowd on contentious matters such as this, appeared to be conspicuously absent.
In California, it's almost expected for celebrities to leap onto the soapbox during a public safety debate. Yet, despite the growing protests on the streets, as best I could tell: complete radio silence from the Hollywood crowd.
This tepid to non-existent response starkly contrasts the usual celebrity fanfare we might see when police-involved, use-of-force controversies arise.
So why the discrepancy? Why would celebrities be outspoken against police use-of-force controversies but suddenly hard to find when there's a private security incident?
So, where were the celebrities?
Here's my perspective: They are afraid. California crime no longer just impacts the average individual; it's encroaching upon the affluent neighborhoods. For celebrities, their security detail is now every bit as integral to their well-being as their publicists, attorneys, and agents. If California DAs start prosecuting security guards—rightly or wrongly—it will impact the willingness of officers and their companies to provide proactive security in that state.
That's a worst-case scenario prospect for celebrities!
Living in the public eye is a costly affair. It's a crazy world now, and having celebrity is expensive. As police presence dwindles and the criminal justice system collapses, private security becomes the security blanket for those who want to maintain their status as celebrities.
And, while I'm not implying that this was necessarily the case here, it wouldn't be surprising if some celebrities not only avoid public comment on security guard incidents but even exert pressure behind the scenes to avoid indictments that could jeopardize the ability of the security industry to do it's job. A celebrity isn't going to want their security guard to hesitate to use force, and that's just the way it is. If the DAs start aggressively prosecuting security's use-of-force, those celebrities are going to have a problem.
Celebrity security personnel are often at risk of confrontations, pushing back aggressive paparazzi, and deterring overzealous fans and stalkers and frequently traveling through many different legal jurisdictions. In fact, one can argue that in some respects, the celebrities' close protection specialists, aka bodyguards, become a law unto themselves. If these encounters were to be closely examined, and if strict scrutiny were to be applied to all close protection specialists, just as it is applied to the security officer on the street, then a troubling inconsistency could emerge: the very celebrities who publicly decry the use of force might themselves be exposed as hypocrites, hiring the very people that they publicly attack.
If DAs start prosecuting, then there's every chance that the celebrities will seek to, and will have to money and clout to, unseat these DAs. And there's precedent for this. At least one prominent California DA has already been recalled.
This brings us to an ironic twist: the well-off, with their private security, remain insulated, while the average person, the individual without the means for private guards, bears the brunt of a society where the police are increasingly absent, and public safety is no longer assured.
Of note, this also underscores what might be an interesting paradigm shift. Previously, sovereign immunity and the police union's protections provided a reason for why one would become a police officer instead of a security officer. Yet, now, at least in wealthy, affluent jurisdictions, one has to wonder if the security officer has a better chance of avoiding politicized prosecutions.
What does this mean for the future? The demand for private security services is poised to skyrocket. As money flows into the industry, salaries are likely to significantly increase and those who want to do security right, as true security professionals and entrepreneurs, could be set to earn generational wealth. It's the time to get in on the ground floor of the next iteration of this industry.
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