Rather than degenerate into a lawless land where criminals rule the streets, a Texas town that fired its entire police department has seen a 61% decrease in crime. In 2012, Sharpstown, a community of 66,000 located just southwest of Houston, declined to renew its contract with the constable’s office, essentially dismissing its cops.
Instead, the Sharpstown Civic Association hired SEAL Security Solutions, a private firm, to patrol their streets. “Since we’ve been in there, an independent crime study that they’ve had done [indicates] we’ve reduced the crime by 61% in just 20 months,” James Alexander, Director of Operations for SEAL, said. The private security firm places its officers on continuous patrol in their assigned neighborhoods, as opposed to the strategy of intermittent presence that the police constables embraced.
“On a constable patrol contract, it’s either a 70/30 or an 80/20,” Alexander said. “Meaning they say they patrol your community 70 percent of the time, [while] 30 percent of the time they use for running calls out of your area or writing reports.”
SEAL also relies heavily on crime statistics when it designs its patrol efforts.
“The second thing that drastically reduces the crime is that we do directed patrols, meaning we don’t just put an officer out there and say ‘here, go patrol,’” he said. “We look at recent crime stats, and we work off of those crime stats. So if we have hotspots in those areas say for that month, we focus and concentrate our efforts around those hotspots.”
Not only has SEAL been more successful at preventing crime in Sharpstown than traditional law enforcement, they are cheaper. Sharpstown is saving $200,000 per year over their previous contract with the police constables, and they get more patrol officers for less money, say reports.