Rent-A-Cops May Have Just the Ticket

South Side aldermen plan to empower private security guards

Security guards from private firms, a.k.a. "rent-a-cops," often get a bum rap and aren't always respected as representatives of the law. Would the public view them differently though if they were allowed to issue citations?

Aldermen Anthony Beale (9th) and John Pope (10th) are putting together an ordinance that would allow security officers that patrol privately-owned property to write tickets.

"Their purpose is to aid and assist the Chicago Police Department, mainly in the business districts," Beale said, reports the Chicago Tribune.

As of now, security guards carry weapons and can detain suspects, but they cannot make arrests or write tickets. The aldermen argue that the officers would be more effective if they could write parking tickets, moving violations, and citations for loitering, littering, and/or graffiti.

"I'm adding to the safety and security of residents of the 9th Ward," Beale told the Chicago Sun-Times.

But the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police doesn't see the idea as helpful at all.

"They're not helping us," FOP third vice president Greg Bella said. "When you put somebody out there who does not know the job, it makes double work for us."

Bella continued, "How about a security guard writing a ticket and somebody comes out and starts fighting with him? He can't make an arrest ... It's a safety issue for them. It's a safety issue for the citizens."

Mark Donahue, president of the FOP, is also hesitant.

"They're not trained law enforcement," Donahue said. "From the taxpayers' point of view, I would be outraged that I wasn't getting sufficient police service, and someone is going to pay private security personnel to perform [those services]."

However, Pope disagrees, saying that the officers are merely adding to the police presence, not replacing it.

"They're out there during prime hours walking up and down the street … They can witness firsthand some of the violations. They might as well write some tickets, too."

How do you feel? Should private security guards be allowed to issue citations? Leave your comments below.

Matt Bartosik, editor of Off the Rocks' next issue and "between blogs" blogger, has received a ticket in years... mostly because he hasn't had a car.

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