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What happens when private security patrols public streets?

Security guards stand outside the entrance to the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse, in Boston, Massachusetts.
Security guards stand outside the entrance to the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse, in Boston, Massachusetts.

If you live near a bustling downtown or shopping center, you may have noticed an increase in private security during the last couple of years. Even places like hospitals, jails, or the occasional Walgreens and gas station have turned to hiring their own security. 

According to The New York Times, most major cities now have at least three times as many security guards as police officers on their streets. In the past couple of weeks, private security guards began patrolling areas in Austin, Texas, and Raleigh, North Carolina

This uptick comes as police departments across the country are struggling to find recruits. As private security replaces its public counterpart, questions about training, regulation, and accountability echo through American communities. Especially considering it’s easier for some communities to afford it than it is for others.

We talk about the issues with our panel of experts.

Copyright 2023 WAMU 88.5

Michelle Harven