The WSJ today carried an article about municipalities that are hiring security guards to do police work.
Hiring private guards is less expensive than hiring new officers. Oakland - facing a record $80 million budget shortfall - spends about 65% of its budget for police and fire services, including about $250,000 annually, including benefits and salary on each police officer. In contrast, for about $200,000 a year the city can contract to hire four private guards to patrol the troubled East Oakland district where four on-duty police officers were killed in March. And the company, not the city, is reponsible for insurance for the guards.
UPDATE: The WSJ reports today that the Oakland contract was cancelled because of a fraud investigation of the owners of the security firm. So much for outsourcing.