The Corner

Citizens of Oakland, Calif., Paying for Their Own Security as Their Government Fails Them

Last week, I mentioned how Detroit residents have started to provide many so-called public services in the place of their defective city government: They mow the grass in public space so children can play, change streetlights, provide threat management, and rehabilitate crumbling houses. That’s in spite of the fact that Detroit taxes (and in particular property taxes) are really high compared with similar-sized cities. 

As it turns out, Detroit is not the only place where heavily taxed residents have to take matters into their own hands and provide public services in the place of the government. Take Oakland, Calif. The one thing almost everyone agrees that the government should provide is police. However, when private citizens in parts of Oakland got tired of the lack of security in their neighborhood, the increase in the crime rates, and the inability of their own police force to protect them, they launched a series of campaigns to hire security forces to patrol their area (see here, here, and here). What are they looking for? Private security officers certified to carry firearms.

Also, everyone can benefit from the service, not just wealthy residents. The SFGate reports:

The service isn’t limited to the affluent hills neighborhoods.

In middle-class Maxwell Park, just northwest of Mills College, 180 residents have banded together to hire a security guard to patrol their neighborhood for four hours a day, five days a week. He started Wednesday.

“It costs each of us about 50 cents a day,” said Jose Durado, chairman of the neighborhood council. “As we get 45 new households to join, we get an additional hour of security.”

The guard’s patrol car, Durado said, will be marked “Maxwell Park Security.”

“We’re hoping that we can act as an example,” Durado said. “We expect that there will be other neighborhoods around us that will say, ‘How did you guys do that?’ “

The security companies are quick to say they aren’t replacement cops — they’re mostly there to scare thugs out of the neighborhood or to report suspicious activity.

There is more here and here

Veronique de Rugy — Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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