September 10, 2016

Private police and security outnumber public police by five times and private security industry is $35 billion per year

Private security guards outnumber police in the US by a 5:1 ratio. The Department of Justice believes that “at least two million persons are ... employed in private security in the United States.” In the United States alone, customers spend nearly $35 billion each year on private security services. Globally private security industry approaches nearly $100 billion annually.

Private security patrols and private police get a lot of attention when security patrols are hired to protects blocks and neighborhoods in Chicago, Oakland and Detroit where there has been a failure by public police to provide for public safety.

There is a broader security industry definition. This includes IT-related private security market which estimated at $80 billion with projected growth of up to 9 per cent. Video security and alarms are also a large segment.

  • $350 billion overall securithy market breaks out to $282 billion in private sector spending and $69 billion in federal government spending on homeland security
  • Operational (non-IT) private security spending is estimated to be $202 billion with expected growth of 5.5 percent in 2013; IT-related private security market is estimated at $80 billion with growth of 9 percent projected for 2013
  • Number of full-time security workers is estimated to be between 1.9 and 2.1 million
  • 42 percent of respondents indicated spending on training would increase in 2013, with 12 percent anticipating a rise of 10 percent or more
  • Private detective/investigator is one of the fastest growing occupations, with anticipated growth of 21 percent projected through 2020; several IT positions are anticipated to grow 22 percent through 2020

The private security industry has been booming since 2010 and is only expected to continue on that path through 2020. Specific occupations within security, like private detectives, investigators and security guards, are all expected to see growth of around 20 percent through the end of the decade, far outpacing the average for all other jobs.

Experts do not agree about what constitutes private security, and various definitions have been used in research.


Private citizens in Virginia can petition the courts to carry a gun, display a badge and make arrests. There are 750 such special conservators of the peace.





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