Flickr user Kyle Taylor, Dream It. Do It. World Tour, under a Creative Commons license

A Minnesota town hires a private security firm to handle its police work

Fighting crime is expensive. And if you’re a small town with diminishing resources, the price of public safety can often be a heavy but necessary burden. One small town in Minnesota is attempting to slash its costs by outsourcing their police work to a private security firm.

KARE-TV reports that the town of Foley, about 60 miles outside of Minneapolis, has handed over its police work to General Security Services Corporation, a private security provider that serves private homes, companies, commercial areas and government buildings. Full-time patrols will begin in January.

The town of about 2,600 had previously been relying on sheriff’s deputies from Benton County, who would patrol the city for 17.1 hours a day at a monthly cost of about $23,000 a month. The new deal with General Security Services will cost $98,500 for six months, or about $7,000 less per month than the cost of the sheriff’s deputies.

Private policing is increasingly common in cities across the U.S., though it’s typically only used for a portion of a city’s public safety needs. It’s a trend that’s growing in cities much larger than Foley. Oakland, California, for example, hired a number of private security guards to patrol a crime-ridden part of town in 2009. They got four private guards for less than the price of one police officer.

But along with those savings come reduced services. Foley's private security guards will be able to patrol areas and make citizen arrests, but can’t investigate crimes or perform traffic stops. That trade-off could be great for the city’s budget, but there’s also the possibility that the cost of crime outweighs the cost of savings.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A map of apartment searches in the U.S.
    Maps

    Where America’s Renters Want to Move Next

    A new report that tracks apartment searches between U.S. cities reveals the moving aspirations of a certain set of renters.

  2. A cat lays flat on a bench at a park on the outskirts of Tokyo.
    Life

    Why Don't Americans Use Their Parks at Night?

    Most cities aren’t fond of letting people use parks after dark. But there are good lifestyle, environmental, and safety reasons to reconsider.

  3. Equity

    Why I Found My Community in a Starbucks

    I was reluctant to support a corporate chain. But in my neighborhood, it’s one of the only places I could have formed a relationship with someone like Sammy.

  4. A man walks by an abandoned home in Youngstown, Ohio
    Life

    How Some Shrinking Cities Are Still Prospering

    A study finds that some shrinking cities are prosperous areas with smaller, more-educated populations. But they also have greater levels of income inequality.

  5. a photo of yellow vest protesters in Paris, France.
    Equity

    To Understand American Political Anger, Look to ‘Peripheral France’

    French geographer Christophe Guilluy has a controversial diagnosis of working-class resentment in the age of Trump, Brexit, and the Yellow Vests.

×