Should we privatize the police for public safety?
QUESTIONS: How would poor individuals/communities afford police protection in a libertarian society? If rich/white communities’ private police kill poor/minority individuals who pass through the rich/white communities’ streets, what recourse do the dead individuals have?
ANSWERS: Today, much of the police budget comes from traffic fines or property taxes. The poor pay these property taxes through their rent. If the police force was a private one, the poor would have lower rents and thus more money in their pocket with which to pay their police fees. If they didn’t like the service they were getting, they could simply end their subscription.
For the poor, the option of not paying is much more important than it is to those who are better off. When crimes are committed today, the wealthier victims will often get preferential care. If the minority victims are ignored, which is often the case, they have little recourse. Being a paying customer gives them clout in a privatized system; they simply take their money and go elsewhere or provide their own protection in the form of a firearm or a guard dog. Today, they pay whether they get service or not, so they can’t readily afford other options.
The myth in our society is that the poor don’t pay for police protection and other government services. In fact, they often pay more and get much less.
Private police do not have the immunity from prosecution that our public police illegitimately enjoy. If they killed minority individuals without just cause, they could be tried for murder, just as an individual citizen would. The families of the victims would likely demand such prosecution.
A private police service wouldn’t be very attractive to customers, even the rich/white ones, if minorities were unjustly killed. All but a few would likely withdraw their subscriptions. Who wants a police force in their neighborhood that shoots people for the most trivial of reasons? No one wants their children to grow up in such a neighborhood. To most people, regardless of their color or socio-economic class, all lives matter.
Since most businesses operate on a small profit margin (10% or so), losing even a few customers means a big dent in the bottom line. Private police want their paycheck too and are motivated to truly serve and protect when we each have the choice whether or not to employ them.