Detroit is arguably the reluctant poster-child for the bleeding edge of economic decline in the US, and as such it’s the place to watch to see how things might begin developing elsewhere. Which means that as the police – stretched by underfunding and escalating workload – concentrate their attentions elsewhere, we might start seeing an increase in private security firms patrolling some neighbourhoods. [via GlobalGuerillas; image by jessicareader]
Detroit’s problems come chiefly from its huge number of vacant foreclosed properties, which act as a magnet for criminality. The residents of those neighbourhoods who’ve managed to hold on to their homes (despite their plunge in value) are keen to see that their value doesn’t drop further, and so they’re willing to pay for surveillance and a visible presence – up to $30 per month, apparently.
But the line between surveillance and enforcement is a thin one, and as new security outfits proliferate, it’s not a stretch to imagine persons of less than scrupulous morals getting in on the only booming business in a broken town. And then it’s a short step to checkpoints at the barricades between neighbourhoods, armed patrols, CCTV saturation as only ever previously seen in the happy-go-lucky UK… sure, it’s a pessimistic scenario, but I wouldn’t say unrealistically so.
More likely is that the potential threat of such an outcome will allow the gated community business model to proliferate. After all, property is cheap in the worst affected areas… so you go in, you by up a few streets, repair the broken buildings, install security infrastructure, and let out the properties with privacy and law enforcement served as a side-dish, paid for as part of the rent or mortgage payments. Hello, burbclaves.