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Turning the Police Into Private Security Guards

Counterpunch has a very disturbing article about a program instituted by Rudy Giuliani that allows the wealthy to hire the NYPD to work as their private security guards while still acting formally as government law enforcement agents with full legal authority.

If you’re a Wall Street behemoth, there are endless opportunities to privatize profits and socialize losses beyond collecting trillions of dollars in bailouts from taxpayers. One of the ingenious methods that has remained below the public’s radar was started by the Rudy Giuliani administration in New York City in 1998. It’s called the Paid Detail Unit and it allows the New York Stock Exchange and Wall Street corporations, including those repeatedly charged with crimes, to order up a flank of New York’s finest with the ease of dialing the deli for a pastrami on rye.

The corporations pay an average of $37 an hour (no medical, no pension benefit, no overtime pay) for a member of the NYPD, with gun, handcuffs and the ability to arrest. The officer is indemnified by the taxpayer, not the corporation.

New York City gets a 10 percent administrative fee on top of the $37 per hour paid to the police. The City’s 2011 budget called for $1,184,000 in Paid Detail fees, meaning private corporations were paying wages of $11.8 million to police participating in the Paid Detail Unit. The program has more than doubled in revenue to the city since 2002.

The taxpayer has paid for the training of the rent-a-cop, his uniform and gun, and will pick up the legal tab for lawsuits stemming from the police personnel following illegal instructions from its corporate master. Lawsuits have already sprung up from the program.

When the program was first rolled out, one insightful member of the NYPD posted the following on a forum: “… regarding the officer working for, and being paid by, some of the richest people and organizations in the City, if not the world, enforcing the mandates of the private employer, and in effect, allowing the officer to become the Praetorian Guard of the elite of the City. And now corruption is no longer a problem. Who are they kidding?”

This is absolutely contrary to the purpose of government law enforcement. And it creates clear conflicts of interest, especially at a time when the NYPD is responding to protests against their benefactors.

Comments

  1. says

    I’m certain of it now. You shouldn’t be posting articles titled “the most disturbing thing you’ll read all week” on Tuesday.

  2. slc1 says

    This is indeed very disturbing, if the article is entirely accurate. However, I am very leery of accepting anything at face value from the Counterpunch web site, given it’s extreme left wing bias. I take anything written on that web site with a lot more then a grain of salt and would be more confident in its accuracy if articles on this subject were available on more mainstream outlets.

    However, this is a certainly a subject that should be raised with Mayor Bloomberg at his next news conference.

  3. roggg says

    I dont know if this should be worrisome or not. This is fairly common where I live and generally comes into play when a company or entity is holding a public event where police presence is desirable but burdensome for the force. It’s more or less an off-loading of costs to the person or company who is creating the need for extra policing. In these cases, they are not “enforcing the mandates of a private employer”, but rather keeping the peace on somebody else’s dime. Maybe it’s different in New York.

  4. Kaintukee Bob says

    I dont know if this should be worrisome or not. This is fairly common where I live and generally comes into play when a company or entity is holding a public event where police presence is desirable but burdensome for the force. It’s more or less an off-loading of costs to the person or company who is creating the need for extra policing. In these cases, they are not “enforcing the mandates of a private employer”, but rather keeping the peace on somebody else’s dime. Maybe it’s different in New York.

    There’s a difference between having a police presence at something like a parade or a festival and having police routinely in your lobby.

    One is the police keeping the peace at a public event, the other is the police acting as private security for a non-public group.

    Shadowrun is supposed to be FICTION, not a roadmap for right-wing politics.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    $11.8M / 37 = a hair under 318,919 police hours, or about 159 full-time (no overtime) cops for a year.

    But it seems obvious that so many of NY’s finest could not possibly work for so long without using multiple gallons of pepper spray (not to mention gasoline, ‘cuffs, etc) – who pays for that?

  6. Modusoperandi says

    slc1, if only there was some sort of thing on the internet that one could use to “search” (or “engoogle”) to double check things with other sources, mmm?

  7. pHred says

    @1 – Exactly. Paying attention to the ravings of a couple of NY legislators about a proposed bill shouldn’t even rank as a possible “the most disturbing thing you’ll read all week” when there were already several more disturbing things being talked about even that day, much less all the stuff that has been brought up the rest of this week.

    That should generally be a Friday feature.

  8. fastlane says

    In terms of legality, this isn’t really all that different from the other side where the locals PDs often provide free traffic control services to various mega churches on sundays.

    In terms of conflict of interest and potential for abuse, though, this is likely much, much worse.

  9. slc1 says

    Re modusoperandi @ #6

    Mr. modusoperandi should note that the article in the Daily News is rather less inflammatory then the article on the Counterpunch web site. Of course, the alternative is for the various venues that feel the need for the extra security is to hire private security firms to perform the service.

    Unfortunately, the track record of such firms, such as Wackenhut, is less then exemplary.

  10. Michael Heath says

    Not only is this just incredibly wrong, they’re also stiffing the taxpayer since they’re renting out their resources at so an incredibly cheap rate. Especially given the location is NYC.

  11. Stevarious says

    *RING*
    *RING*

    Yes, I’d like to rent some police officers. I’d like some protection while I go down to the bank and make a withdrawal. Well, you see, I have reason to believe that some of your guys in blue uniforms might try to stop me from withdrawing all the money in the bank at gunpoint. So I figured, if I hired them all to protect me, then they wouldn’t try to stop me.
    Oh, yeah, I can pay… but uh, since the escort is to go down to the bank to get my money, is there any chance I could do 10% down and the rest after? Excellent.

  12. Modusoperandi says

    Swap “those who can afford it” for “the Mob” and you’ve got part of the story from The Usual Suspects.

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