In 2013, the city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy. As a result, budget and pay cuts have since pushed police officers toward better paying opportunities outside the city, and private security companies have rushed into the city.
Now, private security is a booming industry in Detroit. The largest contractor has reported 25% year-over-year growth since the city’s bankruptcy.
VICE News spoke to Dale Brown, an ex-army paratrooper, who began teaching his own brand of self defense in the early 90’s and started his own Detroit-based security company called Threat Management Center in 2000. Brown says his 60-person VIPER force has more than 5,000 private citizens as clients along with 100 businesses. Altogether, the company brings in about two million dollars a year.
“Our goal is to create conditions where violence does not occur,” Brown said. “We deter violent criminal behavior by projecting strength. So our vehicles have all white strobe lights. Our vehicles are black and chrome. There’s a strong sense that there’s a strong organization that’s protecting these people.”
The impact of private security on the crime rate in Detroit is unclear.
“Do we think that security guards who are visible in neighborhoods deter crime? Yes,” said Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who was appointed almost six years ago. “Can security guards replace police officers? No.”
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