I am Categorically Opposed to Private Police

I have no problem with people who are appointed or elected to animal control positions carrying guns in the same manner of private citizens, but I am categorically opposed to giving law enforcment powers, particularly immunity, to people who are not sworn law enforcement officers.  This is a recipe for trouble, and no good will come of it.

If Pennsylvania is going to have animal enforcement officers, they ought to be sworn police, employed by, and accountable to the public.  I am very uncomfortable with giving private organizations, like the SPCA, quasi law enforcement powers.

Hat Tip to Another Gun Blog

15 thoughts on “I am Categorically Opposed to Private Police”

  1. Will Obama’s future civilian service corps,
    which he said was vital for national security, and would be funded equally with the DOD, be armed, even if they are not
    sworn officers?

  2. I agree with your thinking. If they are to have the liability limitations of a public officer, they should be a public officer, with all the training requirements and limitations of that form of office. There are good reasons for these limitations in the public sector. Allowing private companies to have this exemption is a dangerous precedent IMO. There are two levels of arrest powers now (in most states), we certainly don’t need to add a third. The law is complicated enough.
    I will say as a LEO, I was very surprised during legal training at the level of arrest powers that private citizens have in my state. The rules are very different, LEO have limitations, powers, that private citizens do not (AND visa versa). The biggest difference is in the liability aspect. If a private company wants have it’s employees exercise the rights of citizen’s arrest, IMO they have that right, but they should be as liable as any other citizen and have the same limitations as to use of force. No more, no less.

  3. I checked the link but I do not think that it said these SPCA employees had any LEO powers. If they do please document it. It seemed to me that the SPCA picking up animals that are abused, and many are chained with no water or food, and these animals are often in high crime areas that the employees want to be armed for protection like any other citizen. As such they have the right to be armed.

    So based on that I do not see any reason to be concerned unless you have evidence they are animal conrol officers. SPCA is a private organization not a public one.

  4. There is also legislation in the state Legislature that would give humane officers immunity from litigation. House Bill 2547 would grant humane police officers civil immunity when investigating animal cruelty cases.

    That essentially give these people, who are not sworn law enforcement, some form of immunity as if they were law enforcement.

    Exactly who are these humane society police officers accountable to?

  5. Yeah, I don’t think this is a good idea either, I understand that we have a serious problem in PA with puppy mills, and to a lesser extent fighting rings in the cities, but this isn’t the way to go.

  6. If you watch Animal Planet, they’ve got a show called something like Animal Cops where you see “officers” from the SPCA (or whoever) going in and arresting people for animal abuse, often based on some real circumstantial or minimal evidence.

    I’ve only watched it once or twice and it scared me.

  7. The agents of the Philadelphia Humane Society already exercise some law enforcement activities. They are can make an application for and then serve search warrants, and are authorized to issue citations for violations of various laws and statues that require the recipient to appear before a criminal court. Often their investigations put them in jeopardy as they deal with those who involve themselves with dog and cock fighting. Since they activities usually are accompanied by large gambling operations, and often drug sales and use, they should be provided all the tools, both physical, and legal to protect themselves. If you look at the term private police in its truest sense, it would be those whose activities primarily benefit the interests of their employers. This is not the case with the ASPCA, as they enforce public laws and statutes. Also there has been private police operations in the city and state, as well as many other locations, for decades, namely agents of the various railroad police departments. They enforce laws on railroad property, and have arrest powers. The liability aspect of arming the ASPCA agents should be addressed by training and carefully drafted statutes defining their powers and responsibilities, and holding them accountable for their actions, just as any other law enforcement officer.

  8. Harvey:

    I appreciate the comment, and it’s certainly informative. But I just think that breaking up dog and cock fighting ring should really be the job of city and local police departments, rather than people and organizations appointed to be animal control.

    I have no problem with ASPCA agents carrying guns as private citizens are permitted to do, but if you have a badge and a gun, and the power to arrest people, you should be a sworn law enforcement officer, with all those protections, limitations, and the training. And at that point, you work for the public, not for the ASPCA.

  9. I’m also barely comfortable with Universities having their own police forces, though they are full sworn officers, and have limited jurisdiction over campus. I view this more like outsourcing public police work to a private organization, which I am not in favor of.

  10. “I’m also barely comfortable with Universities having their own police forces”

    Huh? Why? Universities in college towns really have no choice, nor do the communities, when the university population equals or exceeds the local population.

  11. I just don’t like the idea of private police forces, but in the case of University Police, I’m willing to accept it as a necessity.

  12. But it’s not private, at least not at a public university. When there are twenty cops on the local police force, and 40,000 students at the university, what else are they supposed to do, particularly given that students commit more than their fair share of crimes?

  13. Like I said, I don’t really see a way around it, so I am willing to accept the existence of university police forces. But I don’t like the idea of outsourcing police functions to private entities.

  14. I wonder if Obama’s animal trial-lawyer Cas Sunstein is behind this? First you establish police-force powers for animals, then add lawyers…

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