After a wealthy New Orleans businessman complained publicly about how the police were handling crime in the French Quarter, the chief of police responded by saying if the man thought he could do a better job then he should try it. The businessman took up the challenge, establishing a privately funded security force that won the trust and respect of residents, and successfully reduced crime in the Quarter. The interesting story is told HERE.
I’ve blogged before about the privatization of the prison system, outsourcing of the military through private contractors and the militarization of police forces. Those things concern me. I object to them; but notwithstanding my objections, I expect we’ll see traditionally public functions increasingly privatized and put in the control of corporations.
But the New Orleans story feels different to me. This isn’t a case of a government hiring a corporation to do its job for it. Rather it is a case of a community offering citizens an alternative law enforcement system, sort of like having the option of a private school instead of a public school, or federal express instead of the postal service.
But just as with the other privatizations I mentioned, whether we like it or not, this is probably something we can expect to see more of in the future, as the line between public and private continues to blur.