Oakland Neighborhoods Crowd-Fund Private Police

Residents in a wealthier part
of Oakland, California have turned to private security forces to
their neighborhoods safe.

Oakland, already a perennial candidate for the most dangerous
in the US, has seen an uptick in
robberies over the last year. Complementing this problem is the
fact that the Oakland Police Department is short
200 officers

Residents of the Rockridge neighborhoods took the matter into
their own hands, set up three crowd-sourcing campaigns, and hired
VMA Security Group to conduct 12-hour, 6-day-a-week patrols.

that one resident, Dakin Ferris, was inspired to take
action after a string of robberies hit close to his home, making
his family feel vulnerable. He brought 600 households together,
each of them paying $20 a month for the private patrols.

Private security in businesses and college campuses is common
enough, but the idea of private patrols in public areas can be
hazier and can raise questions, since different jurisdictions have
different laws and regulations about what a private security
personnel are allowed to do. For example, some community patrols
are armed; Lower
‘s is not.

Some neighborhood residents have voiced concerns about
accountability. Nicole Aruda, another Rockridge resident, told NPR
that “if there are problems with patrols in the neighborhood, we
have no one to go to because we’re not contractees,” and that the
decision-making process undemocratically “left out hundreds, if not
thousands, of neighbors who were not part of the discussion.”
Understandably, VMA Security is only obligated to protect the
members of the community who pay for the service, and presumably
Aruda could still call the police if she saw problems with the
private security.

Similar experiments in other cities have not always
lasted. For
, a similar arrangement in Philadelphia recently fell
apart after less than a month of patrolling. Tensions arose between
police and private security. There were also allegations that the
private security overstepping their authority and driving
unregistered vehicles while on duty.

But the private patrols in Lower Rockridge have the support of
the police. “We welcome the extra set of eyes and ears,” Oakland
Police Department spokeswoman Johnna Watson tells NPR. “Any help
that we can receive to reduce crime in our city is good for all of

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/15/oakland-neighborhoods-crowd-fund-private

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