LAST EDIT May 18, 2023
Time Magazine: Security Guards are Replacing the Police
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Time magazine, the publication that recently decided to completely eliminate its content paywalls (apparently, not enough people were willing to pay for their content?), just published a three-part series on the security industry. Part one of their series, titled "Private Security Guards Are Replacing Police Across America," suggests a new golden era for the private security industry.
But, are security guards really replacing the police? Or, was this headline just clickbait, a shameless attempt to get clicks on the newly liberated content?
"Private security is going to take over everything," Andre Boyer is quoted as telling the Time reporter. You might remember Boyer as the officer who was prominently featured by the national news media after he and his AR-15 wielding security team hired to guard the Karco gas station in North Philadelphia.
Boyer's company, a private protection agency known as SITE, patrols gas stations and hotels in Philadelphia.
Thanks to the Time article, we now have a sense of how well Boyer's work at the gas station is going.
Neil Patel, the owner of the station, says he hired Boyer in December after thieves stole an ATM from his gas station and the police didn't respond for six hours.
It's allegedly costing Patel $750 per day to employ SITE.
Has it been worth that price?
Patel says he hasn’t had to report one criminal incident since Boyer’s firm started patrolling his lot. Before then, he says, his store was a constant target of crime including theft and carjacking. And, one time, Patel's own vehicle was vandalized while police were in the store, taking down a report about another crime.
The article makes it clear; this isn't a Philadelphia anomaly. All over the country, businesses, neighborhoods, and even government-adjacent entities are turning to security providers.
"There are roughly twice as many security guards employed in the U.S. than there were 20 years ago, according to the Security Industry Association, though the nation’s population has only grown 16% over the same time period. By 2021, there were about two police officers but more than three security guards for every 1,000 civilians."
No longer is the concept of private security limited to the constraints of private property. Neighborhoods and even government-adjacent entities are turning to security providers to patrol public streets and sidewalks.
Notable examples include the parents of Temple University students who are paying out of pocket for security to patrol the campus area after university police have been seemingly unable to get a handle on crime; Beverly Hills, California, where security now conducts foot patrols of the affluent town's public sidewalks; and San Francisco's Marina district where residents are each paying $65 per month for a private patrol operator to patrol the streets.
Time's article might be clickbait, but it's not wrong. Its researchers only scratched the surface of what is really going on in the private security world. America is quickly following in the steps of South Africa where society has increasingly been forced to turn to heavily armed private security providers.
This is placing heavy demands on the industry and opens up an array of opportunities for the true security professional who is willing to train, develop a professional skill set, and provide a level of professional service to meet what's quickly becoming an overwhelming need.
More to come. Stay tuned!
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