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The Regulation of Private Police

Stephen Rushin

University of Illinois College of Law; University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program

November 5, 2012

West Virginia Law Review, Vol. 115, No. 159, 2012

Private police assume many of the same roles as traditional law enforcement. But courts and legislatures regulate public and private police very differently. This article evaluates the statutory and judicial regulation of private police. By collecting and coding all state statutes related to the regulation of private police, I theorize on the inadequacies of the current regulatory scheme. I show that most state statutes only regulate a certain category of private police officers, leaving a substantial portion of the private policing industry virtually unregulated. Many state regulations of private police misunderstand, and thus inadequately protect against the threat posed by the private policing industry. I argue that while most state regulations facilitate predictable transactions for security services, few statutes protect individuals from the potential social harms of the privatized police. Based on these descriptive observations, I make several normative recommendations for future regulation. In doing so, I borrow from the sociological literature on organizational regulation. I conclude that judicial attempts to control private police behavior through the expansion of the state action doctrine would be ineffective at deterring private police misconduct. Instead, state legislatures should expand the depth and breadth of current statutes.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 45

Keywords: private police, private security, security guard, police, security, regulation, organizational theory, law

JEL Classification: K00, K1, K10, K19, K14, K2, K20, L5, D2, D20, D21, D23

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Date posted: November 6, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Rushin, Stephen, The Regulation of Private Police (November 5, 2012). West Virginia Law Review, Vol. 115, No. 159, 2012. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2171409

Contact Information

Stephen Rushin (Contact Author)
University of Illinois College of Law ( email )
504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
217-244-6015 (Phone)

University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program ( email )
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
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