Private Security with Badge (and Gun)

My series on policing, with a focus on special (private) police and communities of color, is appearing in East of the River, a Capital Community Newspaper.

Across the US, many individuals with badges, often armed, are accountable to no one except their private employer. Accountability and regulation of private security was found wanting in a report produced for the US Department of Justice in 1971:

Licensing and regulation of private security businesses and employees is, at best, minimal and inconsistent, and, at worst, completely absent. Sanctions are rarely invoked. Moreover current tort, criminal, and constitutional law has not been adequate — substantively or procedurally — to control certain problem areas involving private security activities, such as arrests, use of firearms, and investigations. Finally, current law has not provided adequate remedy for persons injured by actions of private security personnel.
— “Private Police Findings and Recommendations,”
Rand Corporation for the US DOJ, 1971. p. viii (full report link below)

The biggest change in 45 years has been the size of the security industry: estimated at 400,000 in 1971 and closer to two million now.

East of the River Policing Series:

Private “Special Police” in DC: Community Comments from Recruitment to Accountability’ September 2016 EOTR

Policing East of the River: Call for Community Comment’ in August 2016 EOTR

What Happened to Zo? Frustrated Family, Supporters Fear Cover-Up in April 2016 EOTR

#Justice4Zo (Alonzo Smith) vigil, December 2015

See also:

From Frozen to Bloom (Spatz) in February EOTR

Anyone living and/or working east of the river in DC is encouraged to share thoughts and stories on policing as further articles are developed.

A few more sources

In other local papers:

Unanswered Questions Linger (Sam P.K. Collins) in April Washington Informer

“Private Police…Ranks Are Swelling” in the Washington Post (2015)


Privatization and Policing of Black Colonies

The Case of Alonzo Smith

Rand/US DOJ Reports

In 1971, the Rand Corporation produced extensive studies for the U.S. Department of Justice on the private policing. Each volume is available as free, downloadable PDF:

Private Police Industry: Nature and Extent

Private Police Findings and Recommendations

Law and Private Police

Current Regulation of Private Police

Special-Purpose Public Police


Passing & Pure Individualism

While the ‘passing’ of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century has fallen out of favor, the passing of today takes the form of the assertion of ‘pure’ individualism, stripped of race and gender. But this notion of the individual is an ideological fiction, reflective of the image of male whiteness, and still situated in the assimilationist position.”
– john a. powell, Racing for Justice: Transforming Our Conceptions of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society (Indiana Univ. Press, 2015)

Notes for #WhitenessHistoryMonth 4.8
Extending work of @CrazyPastor. Honoring vision of @PortlandCC

Slideshow of Notes for Whiteness History Month

Demystifying Whiteness

“Historically, many White immigrants have been accused of marginalizing other White immigrants…demystifying the cultural complexity of people classified as White, and the hierarchy of groups created by racism, multicultural education will help White students understand their own history, as well as the fact that the current social discourses against diverse racial/ethnic groups are very similar to the discriminatory discourses and practices that their ancestors experienced in the past.”
– From National Association for Multicultural Education

Notes for #WhiteNESSHistoryMonth 4.6

Extending work of @CrazyPastor. Honoring vision of @PortlandCC


Slideshow of Notes for Whiteness History Month

…walked off with the aggressor

“For the vast majority of white Americans, the past decade*—the first phase—had been a struggle to treat the Negro with a degree of decency, not equality. White America was ready to demand that the Negro should be spared the lash of brutality and coarse degradation, but it had never been truly committed to helping him out of poverty, exploitation or all forms of discrimination. The outraged white citizen had been sincere when he snatched the whips from the Southern sheriffs…[But] White Americans left the Negro on the ground and in devastating numbers walked off with the aggressor. It appeared that the white segregationist and the ordinary white citizen had more in common with one another than either had with the Negro.”

*i.e. 1950s-early60s
– MLK, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community (NY: Harper and Row, 1967)

Notes for #WhiteNESSHistoryMonth 4.5

Extending work of @CrazyPastor. Honoring vision of @PortlandCC


Slideshow of Notes for Whiteness History Month

Racism: Sickness Unto Death?

“It is time to re-order our national priorities. All those who now speak of good will…now have the responsibility to stand up and act for the social changes that are necessary to conquer racism in America,” wrote SCLC president in a 3/4/68 press release, concluding:
“If we as a society fail, I fear that we will learn very shortly that racism is a sickness unto death.”

In the same press release – “DR. KING CALLS FOR ACTION AGAINST POVERTY AND RACISM CITED IN RIOT STUDY; POOR PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN STARTS APRIL 22 IN WASHINGTON” – MLK called racism in the U.S. a “congenital deformity.”

Visit the King Archives for the full press release. See Where Do We Go From Here? for more. Both linked from “A Song Every Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Jan 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)

Notes for #WhiteNESSHistoryMonth 4.4

Extending work of @CrazyPastor. Honoring vision of @PortlandCC

Slideshow of Notes for Whiteness History Month


Reputation of Being a White Man

‘If he be a white man, and assigned to a colored coach, he may have his action for damages against the company for being deprived of his so-called property. Upon the other hand, if he be a colored man and be so assigned, he has been deprived of no property, since he is not lawfully entitled to the reputation of being a white man.’
– Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896)

“The benefits of whiteness, described in this way, throw the disabilities attached to blackness during the ‘separate but equal’ era into sharp relief. For many being white automatically ensured higher economic returns in the short term as well as greater economic, political, and social security in the long run. Being white meant gaining access to a set of public and private privileges that materially and permanently guaranteed basic needs and survival. Being white increased the possibility of controlling critical aspects of one’s life rather than of being the object of another’s domination.”

– john a. powell, Racing for Justice: Transforming Our Conceptions of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society (Indiana Univ. Press, 2015), p.43

Notes for #WhiteNESSHistoryMonth 4.3

Extending work of @CrazyPastor. Honoring vision of @PortlandCC

Slideshow of Notes for Whiteness History Month


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