24 FUTURE TRENDS IN POLICING Additional Cost Saving Strategies for Consideration Consolidating city agencies may be another cost saving measure considered by city managers or elected officials. However, PERF’s survey found that law enforcement leaders think the drawbacks of consolidation outweigh the benefits, with 71 percent of responding agencies stating that they oppose mergers of police and fire departments. Chiefs believe that the culture and skills of law enforcement and fire departments are significantly different, which may prevent effective integration. Some chiefs believe that consolidation of EMS and fire services would be a better fit. ACCOUNTABILITY Bob Cherry, President of Baltimore’s Fraternal Order of Police and a detective with the Baltimore Police Department, argued that departments should focus on the quality of police officers rather than the quantity: “Solving our problems isn’t always about having more cops. It’s about raising standards and advancing to the next level. Some cities may need more police, but we should also concentrate on building a leaner, smarter, more professional police force. We should focus on hiring officers who will meet our best standards and who will work well and produce. And then we need to hold everyone accountable.” Chief Tim Dolan of Minneapolis added that more stringent hiring standards and increased accountability may also improve the level of pride in an agency, which can have cascading beneficial effects. For example, a greater degree of pride could help reduce officer turnover and the number of officers out on suspension, medical leave, and/or light duty, he said.
Implementing Strategies to Increase Efficiency 25 Private Security and Off-Duty Employment: Opportunities and Challenges Police departments have long worked in cooperation with private security forces—to some extent. While private security guards may have little or no law enforcement authority beyond that of any private citizen, they can help a police department by serving as extra “eyes and ears” in certain neighborhoods, downtown areas, or facilities such as shopping centers, entertainment venues, hospitals, educational facilities, businesses, warehouses, critical infrastructure facilities, and other locations. A number of police chiefs have observed that as they look at the future of their profession, they see that in some ways, public police departments work in competition with private security. Especially during an economic downturn—as municipal budgets shrink and police departments lay off officers—neighborhoods and businesses that can afford it increase their use of private security to compensate for reductions in police presence. And because private security guards generally have lower levels of education and training than sworn police officers, they can be hired more cheaply than sworn officers. Wade Setter, superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, described an extreme example of how private security could impact law enforcement. To save money, the small town of Foley, Minnesota, considered replacing its law enforcement service with a private security company. However, the town eventually decided to continue using public law enforcement officers after receiving a negative public reaction and opposition from the Minnesota Attorney General and the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST Board). The director of the POST Board said, “The issue is what a security officer could actually do, because they are not sworn peace officers. A security company employee could not make traffic stops or search a suspect.” A letter from Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson office warned the city that the use of private security for armed patrol services could cause “considerable statutory and constitutional issues. . . . Many of these issues could result in financial exposure for the municipality.” 24 24. www.docstoc.com/docs/101263450/Letter-from-Minnesota-attorney-general-to-Foley-mayor “Why don’t we think outside the box? Why are we worried about private security? Why don’t we make them a partner and help train them? I can’t police everything in my city. They can help us in reducing crime, and at the end of the day isn’t that the issue? I’m not worried about competition. Use private security as a partner to help achieve your goals and make your city safe.” —Jim Fox, Chief Newport News, Virginia, Police Department