Before the increase in the trend of private policing, public policing has monopolized the field in the U.S. Both public and private policing, when compared, displays many similarities and differences, however their distinctions are frequently blurred. Even though they are classified as private police their behavior, roles and responsibilities appear parallel to the public to an extent (Wilson 1994).
According to Shearing and Stenning, advancements in society, e.g. gated communities and large shopping centers, has sparked the need for the growth in private policing (Shearing and Stenning, 1983). These forms of properties ensure safety to customers and/or residence, therefore require continued surveillance. In addition, proper security has become a perk to residents and/or shoppers. With the advances in technology, private security has increased the adequacy of their analyzing, investigating, and monitoring. Private policing have been classified as many things whether crowd controlling, crime preventing, or an individual body guard, it is private security.
In order for the policing to be considered private, service must be provided by a private organization or person, in comparison to public policing which is provided by the state or governing body. Private police are viewed as concerning of the safety of corporations or individuals. Whereas Public police are focused on the public, and enforcing the laws of the justice system. As Shearing and Stenning said, the police (public) are employed and given legal status by the government to ensure and maintain peace (Shearing and Stenning, 1983). Private policing is proactive, and preventative, in comparison to public policing, which is reactive. Meaning in private police aim to prevent crimes through surveillance, and public police respond once a crime has been committed (Wilson 1994).