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Back to Archives | Back to September 2007 Contents 

President's Message

Public-Private Partnerships: Vital Resources for Law Enforcement

By Chief Joseph C. Carter

Chief Joseph C. Carter, Transit Police
Department, Massachusetts Bay
Transportation Authority,
Boston, Massachusetts

e in the law enforcement community often focus on the importance of partnership and cooperation among law enforcement agencies. We do this because we realize that by working together, we increase our strength and improve our ability to serve the communities we are sworn to protect.

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, law enforcement agencies have been under tremendous pressure to conduct their traditional crime prevention and response activities and perform an immense amount of homeland security work, in a time of tight city, county, tribal, and state budgets. At the same time, a growing number of private companies have been awakened to a sense of corporate citizenship—meaning a sense of responsibility to share their resources and expertise for the greater good of the United States. However, private security organizations are under pressure too: pressure to protect people, property, and information, as well as to contribute to the nationwide effort to protect the homeland—all while maintaining their own profitability.

By some estimates, 85 percent of critical U.S. infrastructure is protected by private security companies. The need for complex coordination, extra staffing, and special resources after a terror attack, coupled with the significant demands of crime prevention and response, requires boosting the level of partnership between public policing and private security. The benefits are clear. Law enforcement agencies possess legal powers and training not normally available to the general public. Private industry, with approximately triple the personnel resources of the law enforcement community, is more advanced in the use of technology to prevent and detect crime and is uniquely able to address certain crimes, such as workplace violence or computer crimes.

These reasons are why the work of the IACP’s Private Sector Liaison Committee (PSLC) is so important to the IACP and the law enforcement profession. The IACP founded the PSLC in 1986 to bring together dedicated professionals from the public and private sectors to research, debate, develop guidelines, and offer advice to law enforcement and private security professionals under the guidance of the IACP.

Over the past 20 years, the PSLC has been extremely productive and has assisted the IACP in the development of guidelines on a wide variety of issues important to the law enforcement community and the private sector, such as drugs, theft, and violence in the workplace.

In addition, recognizing that high-quality private security personnel are good for both the private sector and law enforcement, the PSLC helped lead collaboration among the IACP, the American Society for Industrial Security, the National Association of Security Companies, and the National Sheriffs’ Association to develop our private security officer selection, training, and licensing guidelines.

In 2000, the IACP launched an even more ambitious project, Operation Cooperation, a national initiative to encourage partnerships between law enforcement and private security professionals. Through this program, the PSLC developed guidelines, a collection of partnership profiles, a literature review, and a video. Together, these products serve as a road map for those who wish to establish productive partnerships.

The IACP’s efforts to work with the private sector did not stop with Operation Cooperation. In 2004, the IACP, supported by the PSLC and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) joined forces with a number of private-sector security organizations to organize a national policy summit titled “Building Private Security/Public Policing Partnerships to Prevent and Respond to Terrorism and Public Disorder.” This summit focused on working together to fight terrorism and protect the public. The 38-page report that came out of the summit outlined a national strategy to strengthen existing partnerships and create new ones.

In addition, the IACP has joined with the private sector to combat more traditional types of crime. For example, the IACP is collaborating with Bank of America to create a national strategy to educate the public about identity crimes and the necessary steps to prevent being victimized, bolstering law enforcement’s investigative expertise in this area.

An equally compelling public-private partnership is Target & BLUE. Target has created two state-of-the-art forensics laboratories to protect its assets and employees that it shares with law enforcement agencies. These laboratories, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Las Vegas, Nevada, have analyzed data and evidence to help solve thefts, frauds, and violent crimes for over 125 law enforcement agencies. That type of selfless corporate responsibility sets an example for companies to share their resources to create safer communities for everyone.

It is efforts like these that highlight the many opportunities that partnerships between law enforcement and the private sector can create. Over the past 114 years, the IACP has built an unsurpassed network of knowledgeable professionals in many fields and strong partnerships with other law enforcement and security organizations worldwide. Because of the hard work of the PSLC, we stand ready to face the challenges that lie ahead for both police and security organizations and the individuals we all serve.■



From The Police Chief, vol. 74, no. 9, September 2007. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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