Monday, August 17, 2009



By : Mr. A. James Meinecke, M.B.A. (Harvard Business School), President and CEO, Tailor-Targeted Systems Solutions (TTSS), LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Company; Former Director, Blackwater USA, a consulting agency specializing in private security solutions and diplomacy (1997-2004); Former Chief, Atlanta Police Department (1988-1997); Board Member, The Free Market Society (2001-present); Publisher Laissez-Faire, S’il Vous Plait, an informational newsletter serving America’s corporate boards.

Americans want safe streets and safe workplaces. They don’t want to worry about crime and terrorism on their way to work. They want their children to be safe when they use the Internet and email. Americans also want to know that guilty people are being investigated, captured and punished. America trusts its law enforcement personnel to accomplish these tasks. For decades, government-run American law enforcement kept pace with the criminals.

But we can do better. For a long time, America has trusted Federal, State and local government to enforce its laws. Americans elect representatives to pass laws criminalizing certain conduct. They then rely on Executive agencies—such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State police and local police forces—to corral anyone who violates those laws. Although Executive agencies generally do a fine job investigating, interrogating, prosecuting and punishing criminals, they face a key limitation: They are public servants. And public servants never do a job as well as competitive, motivated private contractors.

Here at Tailor-Targeted Systems Solutions LLC, we want to help America. Specifically, we want to make public services more efficient by cutting the “public” out of “public services.” As effective as State law enforcement efforts may be, imagine how much more effective they would be if private enterprise competed for better ways to catch criminals. The simple truth is that government employees do not have an economic incentive to pursue criminals. They receive low pay and generally enjoy few avenues for financial advancement. No matter how hard they work and how many drug dealers they arrest, they get the same $29,578 a year. Additionally, they have a monopoly on their jobs: They do not feel pressure to introduce better solutions to existing problems. After all, there are no rival police departments to keep them on their toes. We believe that America deserves better. When it comes to catching criminals, we think efficiency comes first.

Many people think that certain government functions should not be private, including law enforcement. These people think that government agents should investigate crime because crime is a public concern. They think that police officers should not be loyal to their own economic interests, but rather the “public good.” In essence, this argument boils down to loyalty: To whom should police officers be loyal? Yet this argument misses an essential point. Namely, it forgets that law enforcement aims to efficiently stop crime, not vindicate the popular will. If it came between stopping ten rapes and vaguely fulfilling “the popular will,” I think every American would say that stopping ten rapes is more important. Complacent State officers cannot stop rape as effectively as dedicated private contractors with an economic interest in stopping rape. When law enforcement professionals have no personal economic stake in stopping crime, they have no reason to be efficient. That is why we must privatize law enforcement. We owe it to our children. If we want safe streets, we must change the way we look at loyalty.

Police officers would do a much better job if they knew they would profit from stopping crime. According to popular understanding, police officers pursue crime because they care about the public good. But the public good pays no bills; money does. If our police officers received a special bonus for every crime they prevent—or for every suspected criminal they catch—we would provide a meaningful incentive for our law enforcement personnel to protect us. In this sense, we propose a corporate model for law enforcement. Rather than requiring “loyalty to the State” from our policemen, we should make them loyal to a private law enforcement company. That company, in turn, would contractually pay them a higher salary than the State, plus bonuses for effective criminal management. When people have real economic incentives to get a job done, they do it much more effectively than someone who receives a discouraging flat rate serving “the public good.” In our view, when police officers have an economic motivation to stop crime, they will stop it much more efficiently than they would “serving the public good” for minimal pay. For example, a police officer would much more willingly investigate a dangerous drug ring knowing he might receive an extra $4,000 per arrest than he would if he knew he would receive nothing more than the usual $29,578 a year for zealously investigating the drug ring. He could use that $4,000 to pay medical bills, car notes or credit card debt. He could use the extra money to buy consumer goods or invest in the stock market. At the same time, he would benefit the public by stopping drug crime. Put simply, when people have an economic reason to do something, they take more chances and get jobs done more effectively than they would without the incentive. That is why we must privatize police forces. Public loyalty does not protect our children. Only private loyalty does.

There is no reason why so-called “traditional public services” should not compete in a free market system. The fact that “traditional public services” are so important only supports the argument that private enterprise should provide them. After all, police services are essential to the community. Private enterprise would provide them more efficiently than the State. In that light, Americans should embrace private solutions to traditionally public services. Private police can catch twice as many criminals as public police in the same time. Results are results. When Americans get better results from private enterprise than public services, they will never go back to public services. Additionally, private enterprise must always stay fresh. There will always be a competitor striving to take a company’s place in the market. In that light, competition will make private businesses even more efficient crime stoppers. After all, if a new police company catches more criminals than the old one, the old company will lose its contract. That will force the old company to invent new, more effective crime control measures to keep pace. All the while, the public benefits. When police forces compete for contracts, the criminals lose and the public wins.

Competition among private police forces will not just reduce crime. It will also drive down costs. Unlike inefficient public police forces, private companies will always need to stay ahead of the curve and deliver results. They will have to stop more crime more quickly than their competitors, all for a competitive price. By competing for contracts, private companies will ensure that taxpayers only pay market rates for law enforcement services, not inflated subsidy rates. If a company can’t cut the mustard, it will lose its contract to a company that can arrest more criminals for less money. This is just the way business works. Yet under the public model, if the police force fails to stop crime, it still costs the same amount. This is not just inefficient. It is also expensive and wasteful. This is why we must privatize our police forces. It will not just stop crime and protect children; it will cost less, too.

Private police forces will pursue criminals much more effectively than public ones. Under the public model, police officers always wear uniforms and other “official, State insigniae.” While this adds a special “government aura” to law enforcement, it also gives criminals far too much warning. They can easily run away whenever they see a uniformed policeman approaching, or they can say: “Put the drugs away; here comes a cop car.” Put simply, public police forces stick out like a sore thumb. And when criminals get away, the public suffers.

Not so under the private model. Private police officers are not really “officers” at all. Rather, they are “employees.” As such, they do not wear uniforms. They do not drive marked cars. They look like regular guys on the street. Criminals will never know whether a law enforcement company employee is nearby, ready to arrest them. This is much more efficient than tipping criminals off by wearing ostentatious silver badges and military-style uniforms. When law enforcement goes private, criminals will start looking over both shoulders. And when criminals are scared, they will not rape women, rob banks or murder children.

Private police employees enjoy another key practical advantage over public police officers: Namely, they are not bound to respect any “constitutional rights.” Public police forces are “State actors.” As such, they must follow the United States Constitution and various State constitutions when investigating and prosecuting crime. This drastically impedes their effectiveness, because constitutions interpose “individual rights” that bar highly efficient crime control practices. By contrast, private law enforcement employees face no such limitations. When they set out to arrest a criminal, they do not need to worry about “warrants,” “probable cause,” “reasonable suspicion,” “privacy,” “the Fourth Amendment,” “Miranda warnings,” “Due Process” or other elaborate judicial fantasies. Rather, they can arrest whomever they please, whenever they please. If they need to tap a phone, they tap it. If they need to search a house, they search it. If they need to wring a confession from a suspect, they wring it. In short, criminals have no refuge when facing private law enforcement employees. And all this adds up to safer streets and safer children.

We should not shrink from privatizing our police forces. We owe it to our children. When it comes to any service, the best solutions are private. Private employees with an interest in success do a job much better than poorly-paid bureaucrats who just want to see 5 o’clock and a pension. Just look at the DMV to see public servants at work. Would you trust your wife’s safety to a DMV employee? Of course not. Yet these people are your police officers. Vigorous private enterprise gives Americans their most cherished goods and services, from medicine to fast food. There is no reason why we should not trust private enterprise to give them something as vital as protection from criminals. Additionally, when we privatize police forces, we will open a whole new employment market, boosting job growth and income levels across the country. Enterprising men and women will study to become law enforcement employees. They will learn to make a decent wage catching criminals. The solution is obvious.

We can do it. America deserves more from its law enforcement professionals, not lackluster donut-eating and clockwatching. We must move away from the idea that only government can do certain jobs. As a Director at Blackwater USA, I showed that privately-employed soldiers could do a better job than the U.S. Army in the field. If private enterprise can wage war in Iraq, it can also protect Americans against dangerous criminals at home. And it can do it more efficiently, too. When employees stand to make more money for doing a better job, everybody wins.

We deserve efficiency. We deserve better pay. We deserve solutions that work. That is why we must bring private enterprise to law enforcement.

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