Arlan Meekhof, the Senate Majority Leader here in Michigan, is promoting a bill that would allow for private police forces working for corporations and other organizations that have the power to make arrests and other government law enforcement functions.
Michigan would authorize a new class of private and potentially for-profit police agencies with full arrest powers under legislation proposed and pushed by Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof.
The West Olive Republican took testimony on his two-bill package Tuesday in the Senate Government Operations Committee, where he and other supporters argued private forces could supplement public law enforcement agencies and free them to focus on high-impact crime.
The legislation would allow corporations, associations, school districts and other entities to contract with private police agencies to provide services for a specific time and in a specific geographic area…But the legislation was panned by current law enforcement officials, who said they were concerned by proposed transparency and training requirements. A private officer would not have to undergo a background check if he or she were licensed by the state as a law enforcement officer within the previous two years, they noted.
“At some level, it feels like we’re creating a Blackwater for police in the state of Michigan,” said Howell Police Chief George Basar, a past president for the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. “It almost feels like we’re putting together a mercenary force to police in some of our communities.”
This is an unimaginably terrible idea. They say this is in response to limited budgets for law enforcement, but it’s not like schools are in any better shape. And allowing private corporations to enforce civil law? I shudder at the thought. The police power is one of the most powerful and easily abused authorities of the government. Do we really want to give that kind of power to private agencies that do the bidding of the wealthy and powerful? Did we learn nothing from the murderous union-busting policies of the past with groups like Pinkerton?