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Communities, neighborhoods increasingly using private security to deter crime

Communities, neighborhoods increasingly using private security to deter crime
Posted at 3:21 PM, Aug 23, 2022

Businesses and neighborhoods across the U.S. are turning to private security companies to add an extra layer of protection.

“People are feeling less safe,” Steve Amitay, the executive director of the National Association of Security Companies, said. “Since the start of COVID-19, there's really been a surge in crime; in all types of crime.”

NASCO is a trade association representing more than half of security officers in the U.S. Amitay said a rise in extremism, mass shootings, and protests are also giving people a reason to rethink their security measures.

“The big one is retail and the need for private security at retail establishments. But now, it’s manufacturing establishments. It's also commercial office buildings, hospitals,” he explained.

P4 Companies, a guarding company that operates in 14 states, has seen more inquiries for security officers. One of the newest growth areas for them is non-gated communities and neighborhoods.

“One of the things we’ve done in a neighborhood in the north side of Chicago was putting off-duty police officers and squad cars and patrolling a certain geographic area of that neighborhood,” Steve Vitale, executive VP at P4 Companies, said.

This service can run neighborhoods $180,000 or more a year for eight to 10 hours of daily surveillance.

Criminologist Andrea Borrego said we should think twice before making a decision on safety measures.

“There's this idea that police presence or security presence makes people feel safer,” Borrego, an associate professor of criminal justice and criminology at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, said. “But it could also deter customers who feel unsafe around security guards.”

She said there should be more focus on why certain crimes are increasing in the first place.

“While more police presence might make people feel safer, it's hard to say whether or not it actually deters crime or are we addressing why crime is happening,” Borrego said.

“There's still a very big need to have security officers and off-duty police officers provide that deterrence for people to feel safe,” Vitale said.