…The result is Project NOLA, perhaps the country’s first and most extensive private surveillance network, run, improbably, by one man and a ragtag group of volunteers. … This is how it works: New Orleans residents who have chosen to participate install a surveillance camera on their home or business. The cameras must face toward the street and broadcast a high-resolution feed. The videos feed directly to Project NOLA’s headquarters. Lagarde says that those who host a camera are also given the username and password, and can access the videos whenever they’d like. … This is where relations with the police department have gotten somewhat uncomfortable. Gamble, the police spokesman, says that while the police appreciate all the help they can get, Lagarde has overstepped on a number of occasions. … Gamble adds, “He’ll watch his video cameras and he’ll listen to feeds of the police scanners. And then he’ll call the command desk and get someone to try to give him information.” Gamble says Lagarde has even tried to re-route officers to a particular scene, and called schools to urge them to go into lockdown after something he saw on a video feed….
Who Runs the Streets of New Orleans? How a rich entrepreneur persuaded the city to let him create his own high-tech police force.
Source: David Amsden, New York Times magazine, July 30, 2015
…. In the United States, private police officers currently outnumber their publicly funded counterparts by a ratio of roughly three to one. Whereas in past decades the distinction was often clear — the rent-a-cop vs. the real cop — today the boundary between the two has become ‘‘messy and complex,’’ according to a study last year by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Torres’s task force is best understood in this context, one where the larger merging of private and public security has resulted in an extensive retooling of the nation’s policing as a whole. As municipal budgets have stagnated or plummeted, state and local governments have taken to outsourcing police work to the private sector, resulting in changes that have gone largely unnoticed by the public they’re tasked with protecting.