Since the 1820s, America’s police have protected everyone, whether they were rich or poor. Of course, the wealthy got the best of what their police forces offered; but the poor got reasonable services as well.
Nevertheless, police services are changing, and not in a way everyone will like.
The NRA rejoinder “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away” is becoming more of a reality by the day. Years of being bogged down with ancillary activities and continuing budget cuts are taking their toll on what we think police should be doing.
For the “stretched to the limits” police forces around the country, something has got to change; and that “something” now means withdrawal of services in specified circumstances. When services are withdrawn in earnest, they will not be made in poor neighborhoods (read: minorities) where crime is committed; they will be made in more affluent (read: white) neighborhoods where victims live. Victims are an “accepted” byproduct of managing dwindling police resources.
The supine majority have always just “grinned and accepted” being victims, but this is beginning to change. The purpose of police protection is beginning to turn back to its original, pre-1820s mission, which was protecting and serving the wealthy.
Wealthy people are not going to hide in their basements when their town’s police stop driving by their homes. They will, and have already started to, hire private police to protect them. This may be just the beginning, but it will undoubtedly come to parallel the gap between the average public school and the average private school.
Eventually, the big cities will not get the best applicants to join their police forces. Becoming a big city cop will mean an entire career of always working in dangerous high crime areas. Every call will be fraught with danger; and eventually, the private police will get and keep the best applicants.
Private police are already patrolling some parts of Houston, Texas and Stockton, California. It won’t be long before other cities see them on their streets as well.
Those who understand how much they have to lose based on how America is changing will not roll over and accept what the system dishes out. When private police become the norm, America’s “civil divorce” will proceed at full speed. Those who can’t/won’t pay for enhanced police protection won’t get it. Those who can pay will get it.
Photo credit: coleyboley (Creative Commons)