Californians in San Francisco’s Marina District are scared of the unrestricted property crime and home burglaries plaguing their neighborhood. So they have decided to hire private security to do what the municipal police seem unable or unwilling to do.
Increasing Crime Rates:
There is no escaping it; crime rates are up in California and across the country. For example, California’s homicide rate rose 31% from 2019 to 2020, 2 points higher than the national increase of 29%. For some context, this is the most significant single-year jump since the FBI began keeping records in the 1960s. Moreover, California’s strict gun laws haven’t helped curb the number of homicides in which the attacker used a gun.
Nationwide, killers used guns in 76% of their crimes, an increase of 3% from the previous year. The California DOJ reported that in 2020, California criminals murdered 2,202 people. In 75% of those homicides, the criminal used a firearm. The year before, 73% of California homicides involved a gun.
A Los Angeles Times article reported that robberies decreased by 14%, there were 8% fewer reported rapes, but aggravated assaults increased nearly 9%. In addition, the article mentioned that across the country, from 2019 to 2020, violent crime increased 5.9% but only less than 1% in California.
No matter how the media presents the numbers, people across the country feel the impact of increased crime and a reduced police response in their lives. As residents of the Marina District, many hire private security to protect their homes and personal businesses.
You are Your Own First-Responder:
It’s easy for some to discount what is happening here. Because for those with wealth, this includes our elected leaders; private security is nothing new. But, for most Americans, they are their own security. Law enforcement’s response to their home might be 30 minutes or more. They don’t have a security detail to protect them in public or their children at the public school. And the majority of Americans don’t have the money to afford private security.
The reality is that poor neighborhoods have more crime; we all know this. So we need more officers and more training for officers. We need officers to be proactive and, at the same time, train them to use proper discretion on how they enforce the law. We need District Attorneys that will hold criminals accountable and sentencing that is a deterrent to committing the crime in the first place. We need to invest in family units and demand fathers take responsibility for the raising of their children. Emphasize hard work and personal accountability, and compassion above money, self-gratification, and possessions. However, by and large, the strategy is quite different.
Our government, social media, and entertainment actively seek to tribalize and divide Americans, so they see each other as members of opposing groups rather than people. As a result, it is easier to commit violence against someone whom you see as an enemy group. The result is more crime and not only that but heartless actions that are purely evil.
We have also received the message that demonizing officers as a whole is justified and will have no harmful effects. That is foolish, though. For example, in a New York Times article, Chief David Zack of the Asheville Police Department in North Carolina said:
We have lost about one-third of our staff to resignation and retirement- more than 80 officers out of a full complement of 238. Certainly with the way that police have been portrayed and vilified in some cases, they have decided that it is not the life for them.
The same article cites a national survey of 200 police departments. The survey found the numbers in Ashville follow a predictable path- retirements were up by 45 percent and resignations by 18 percent between April 2020 and April 2021. So fewer police officers is not the solution for the communities hit with high crime rates. It isn’t a problem for the communities that can afford private security, though. And these are the communities from which most of the ant-police rhetoric comes.
Furthermore, if the political and national environment police face is increasingly hostile, officers that stay on will drawback their enforcement. Anecdotally I can confirm this trend from my time as a police officer during the Ferguson effect. But, unfortunately, what is happening now is far more coordinated, leaving some officers with the desire just to lay low and run out the time until retirement.
The numbers of retirements and resignations did not even reflect the newest hit for law and order. With the vaccine mandate, departments force officers who choose to stick it out and continue to serve to choose between their job and a vaccine. A post by Foreign Policy references a report that said:
…as many as half of Chicago’s 12,000 police officers have refused to submit their vaccine status to the city. In Seattle, nearly 140 officers out of a force of 1,325 have so far refused to be vaccinated, while less than 50 percent of Virginia state troopers are unvaccinated. In Las Vegas and Atlanta, only a third of police officers have gotten the shots. In the nation’s capital, 42 percent of its police department’s officers remain unvaccinated
This post isn’t about the vaccine’s efficacy, nor is it about choosing to receive or be forced to receive the vaccine. Instead, it is merely exposing the reality that the mandate is one of the reasons police departments are understaffed, and officers are overworked and ill-prepared to respond to criminal activity. Fewer cops working the streets is not a good thing. However, again, neighborhoods of affluence can afford to pay for private security and private schooling. And let’s be honest; when a criminal steals thousands of dollars of tools out of a construction worker’s truck, the impact is different compared to someone who has the money to replace the stolen items. For the construction worker trying to provide for his family, buying all new tools may not even be a possibility. In turn, they no longer can work, and the potential downward slide is clear.
I was kinda’ curious about the value of properties in the Marina District. So I went on Zillow and found that you could get this 775 square foot, one-bedroom condo for 895,000 dollars. Or, if you have a family, you could get this beautiful 3,526 square foot home in a multi-family building for over 8 million dollars.
Don’t mistake my words to assume anyone who has money is evil. Money isn’t the only measure of success, but the amount of money one has may change the impact of being the victim of a property crime. We should be wary of the signs that our country is becoming more like countries like South Africa. Where police are almost non-existent, private security officers protect whoever they are paid to protect. In these cases, those who can’t afford the protection suffer the most.
The more we privatize our communities’ law enforcement duties, the less safe we become. There is less accountability, and the people have less input on what services they receive. It will become harder to investigate crimes across jurisdictions, and criminals will victimize the poor even more because they will not have the resources. On the other hand, we can use private security in beneficial ways. And indeed, when a community feels it can’t rely on the police for protection, they should pull together and look at other options. However, I think we need to reject any national trend toward the privatization of police.
Take Your Personal Safety Seriously:
Finally, what is painfully apparent is that even if police abound, we are still ultimately responsible for our protection. Therefore, we need to fill the gap until the police can arrive. We think the self-defense mindset is essential, and we speak about it on our podcasts, our training curriculum, and the content we publish.
Feel free to leave a constructive comment on what you read.