by Leslee Kulba
Wild West blogger
Six counties in Western North Carolina are considering partnering with G4S Secure Solutions for transporting involuntary commitments. G4S is the third largest corporation in the world. Its product line includes:
standing sentry at Mission Hospital in Asheville, guarding ships from pirates in the Indian Ocean, and protecting European Union diplomats in Lebanon.
Traditionally, when somebody is deemed a threat to themselves or others, law enforcement will transport them to a facility where they may be sedated or restrained until the shrinks are able to stabilize them. The state has only 2040 beds for people in such circumstances, and so the distraught must, on average, wait 3.2 days before they may be seen.
Law enforcement officers sometimes have to drive great distances to take the poor, broken souls to services. Then, they have to wait with the potentially dangerous until other means can be taken so they will harm no one. In towns with eenie-weenie police forces, this could leave the public at-large exposed to crime with no hope for timely interdiction.
G4S is therefore pitching a package whereby their employees would handle the transport and sitting. Preliminary evaluations by local counties indicate costs would go up, but salesmen working for the company claim it is worth the increase in public safety.
The practice is referred to as “privatization,” but I disagree. It is more like a government contract, as G4S will be sticking the bill to the local jurisdictions so the taxpayers will be picking up the, albeit heavier, tab.
And another thing, I am high on privatization, but I’ve always winced at the prospect of privatizing justice. Law enforcement is a proper role of government. In my libertarian utopia, sworn officers are trusted by the public to take action when individuals overstep their boundaries and abuse the rights of others. One does not have the choice of shopping around for Louie or Mack to handle the situation. This is a tad off-topic, but would psychiatric patients enjoy more protections with a tax-paid police force? I don’t know. Those under duress are easily taken advantage of.