Private (In)security and the Public

Topics: Security, Police, Security guard Pages: 20 (6118 words) Published: July 31, 2014


“This is one of those things where I think sometimes horrible things happen. And no security service, public or private, could have done much to prevent it” (Mackrael 2012). George Rigakos made this assertion; chair of the Law Department at Carleton University, in response to the shooting that had taken place at the Eaton Centre mall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on June 2nd, 2012. It is one of many comments by experts and members of the public alike that attempt to provide explanations for why the attack on the largest shopping galleria in Toronto was able to take place so easily. Along with these explanations, the general public looked for answers to their questions as to why there had been a lack of prevention and/or protection for the populace at the Eaton Centre that evening in the first place. In a setting where neo-liberalism flourishes, it had taken only a mere moment for the prosperity of privatization to be assaulted by a gunman’s rage upon the unsuspecting public. With such an attack on the rudimentary foundation of western society, in this case, neo-liberalism, it is of utmost importance for the victimized public to find a target to direct blame towards. Despite the shooter in question (at the time of this paper, the accused is Christopher Husbands), the public must look to situational factors that permitted this onslaught to occur in the first place. Is it the fault of the city? Should exceptions to public policing on private property be made? Is it the fault of the private owners of the Eaton Centre (Cadillac Fairview) and the lack of pre-emptive security officers to halt such instances? Are such instances preventable at all? Within the context of this paper, I do not seek to find answers to the previous questions through sociological theory, or through my own personal deductions. Rather, I will look at the public opinion of those who wrote opinion pieces on the Eaton Centre shooting and their view(s) on who is to blame, and their suggested resolutions. Through these qualitative observations, I expect to find that a majority of people felt their sense of security to be threatened and will believe that an increase in both private and public security will be necessary in order to prevent such attacks from occurring again. However, I am also incredibly aware that public opinion will vary and as a result, my notion of a public demand for increased security will vary from person-to-person, especially with something as profoundly subjective as what one may deem as a sufficient amount of security.

Literature Review
When it comes to the topic of security, the subject is often contested and evokes strong reactions amongst those who debate it. The concept of security constantly holds subjective views due to the fundamental variations people hold with respect to their values, interests, and their socioeconomic status. All persons are exposed to varying kinds of security, whether said security is as simple as a deadbolt lock, or constant demand for police officer patrols in their neighbourhood. Security occupies a wide spectrum of manifestations, however, the one that the current study will focus on is that of private policing (with occasional emphasis on public police). Traditionally, policing has been state-governed and oriented toward the protection of the mass public. However, recently the field of private security has seen exponential growth, surpassing the number of employees that traditional public policing tends to yield. Where does this growth come from, exactly? Why is it seeing prominence now, rather than in the 1970’s, 1980’s, or at any other point prior to the new millennium? I point towards the growing foundation of capitalism in the neo-liberalist state; private property expands and a desire to protect it blooms in association with its development. It is with the development of mass private property that aids in the demand and necessity for private security to protect the property...

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