Report: Baltimore has the highest rate of ‘guard labor’ among metropolitan areas

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Photo by John Loo, via Flickr.

For years, Baltimore’s police force has been robust for a city of its size. The most recent numbers compiled by Governing magazine found that in 2016, the Baltimore Police Department ranked eighth in the country in officers per capita among jurisdictions with at least 25,000 people. There were 40.6 officers employed for every 10,000 residents.

What happens when you extend that out to detectives, prison guards, security screeners and private security?

Baltimore is first in the nation among large metropolitan areas, with 140.23 guard workers for every 10,000 residents. That’s more than Las Vegas, which has a considerable security presence with its many casinos, and Washington D.C., the heavily protected nation’s capital. Large metro areas, defined as having more than 1 million people, average 95.2 guards per 10,000 people.

Baltimore drops to fifth in the ratio of guards to teachers, at 1.15. The average in large metros is 0.88.

These figures come from a new analysis conducted by Richard Florida, an urban studies professor at the University of Toronto and editor at large with CityLab, along with the economic data firm Emsi.

Their findings show that metropolitan areas have the highest concentration of guard labor, and those areas have seen the fastest increases in recent years.

But as Florida concludes in his piece for CityLab, the presence of more security does not serve as a deterrent for violent shootings. And that’s especially relevant to the conversation about beefing up security and training teachers to use guns in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, he says.

“The money we waste on guards—or training school staff to be guards—could be much better spent improving our schools, developing our young people, and enacting and enforcing laws that are proven to prevent violence in the first place.”

Brandon Weigel

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