Mall cop a model of policing Mall cop a model of policing

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George Hasara

George Hasara – Columnist In recent years, we have seen a metamorphosis of law enforcement in our country. Some advancement has been made in community policing and partnering with the public while taking a proactive approach in crime prevention. At the other end of the spectrum, aspects of militarization have developed, creating a widening disconnect between law enforcement and the people they serve. An element of policing not typically considered is private security. There is value in examining what a “rent-a-cop” does. The 2017 U.S. Department of Labor statistics states there are more than 1.1 million private security guards in the U.S. compared to 666,000 police. The mall cop, while much maligned, may very well serve as a model of possible improvements in policing. Below are five reasons to consider: 1. Single task: Unlike government cops, mall cops are not tasked with “enforcing the law.” They are not bill or tax collectors, concerned if you are behind on child support or if your car’s registration is up to date. What you do in the privacy of your own home is no concern to them. The mall cop’s job is straightforward – provide safety and security. 2. No shielded liability. Unbeknownst to most people, law enforcement does not have a legal requirement to protect the citizenry. Multiple court rulings, including those from the Supreme Court, have consistently blocked lawsuits from plaintiffs who sought compensation from police departments for death or injury that resulted from negligence and incompetence. The courts have ruled that while the police have a general requirement for public safety, they do not have a specific obligation toward any one particular person. That’s a head-scratching piece of legalese. On the other hand, in all 50 states, shopping malls, including their security teams, are legally liable for the safety of their patrons. Those who are held responsible, tend to act more responsible. 3. No guaranteed jobs. Public employees, including cops, can be deeply embedded in the system with both union protection and governmental tenure. How often do you hear of a government worker who is fired for merely sub-par or mediocre performance? The level of bad behavior must be very high in order to result in termination. No vetting process is perfect and the proverbial bad apples manage to roll in regardless of the position held. Also, over time, a person who once was qualified may cease to be competent for a whole host of reasons. Job protection should not take priority over protection of the public. 4. No asset forfeiture allowed. Over the years, police have been granted the ability to take (keep or sell) any property they allege is involved in a crime. Proof is not necessary, and this is done without a trial. Imagine if a mall cop confiscated a person’s personal property from their vehicle without proof of any wrongdoing. 5. Mall Cops don’t ask “Where are you going?” This is a small thing but it hints at a larger attitudinal issue. When I was a kid, there was a big difference between my friends asking me where I was going and my parents asking the same thing. A mall cop won’t ask you that question because the answer is obvious – “I’m going to the mall!” Contact George at georgehasara@yahoo.com.

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