Private Security and Deterrence

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Quasi-experimental estimates indicate that police are a deterrent to crime. Benefit-cost analysis using those estimates indicate that hiring more police is more than justified, with one prominent study indicating that many U.S. cities are under-policed. Less is known about the deterrence potential of private security options. Considering budget pressures and political calls to de-emphasize or even defund the police, examining the relative efficacy of private security guards compared to police takes on added importance. We present results from college campuses suggesting that private police generate deterrence comparable to that of public police, but we do not find evidence that private security guards hired by colleges generate comparable deterrence.

Publication Title

Handbook on Public and Private Security