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Private Police and Democracy

17 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2005  

David Alan Sklansky

Stanford University


The implications of private policing for democracy depend on the particular kind of private policing at issue, on the particular account of democracy we bring to bear, and on the functional relationship we assume between private and public policing. This paper explores each of these three levels of complexity, and it urges attention to two underappreciated ways in which private security may threaten democracy. The first is by dampening political support for public law enforcement committed, at least nominally, to protecting everyone against illegal violence. The result may be a system of policing even less egalitarian than the one we have today. The second is by aborting the largely unrealized project of democratizing the internal workings of police departments. The result of that may be to forfeit a promising set of avenues for making policing more effective, more humane, and more respectful of democratic process in the broader society.

Keywords: police, private security, privatization, democracy

Suggested Citation

Sklansky, David Alan, Private Police and Democracy. American Criminal Law Review, Vol. 43, No. 89, 2006; UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 845144. Available at SSRN:

David Alan Sklansky (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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