Multiple affluent neighborhoods in Chicago have hired the services of P4 Security Solutions. The company provides patrols by armed, off-duty police officers in an attempt to reduce street crime such as carjackings and home robberies.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

The officers, who ride in marked security cars equipped with overhead lights, cameras and high-tech communications tools, aren’t tasked with making arrests, even though they are allowed to carry guns because they are sworn police officers. They contact 911 in an emergency and act as a deterrent, Mr. Ohm said.

The willingness of neighborhood associations to pay for security in neighborhoods such as Lincoln Park, Bucktown and Lakeview comes amid a surge of crime in Chicago and other cities, where interest in private security is also on the rise.

Private patrols can reduce crime in areas they serve, said Jens Ludwig, head of the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab. But they tend to exacerbate racial and economic divisions that are already wide in the city, he added, and could potentially reduce political pressure to attack the problem at a citywide level. “That would be the open question and potential big concern,” he said.

Josh Lane, a 34-year-old Bucktown resident, said he was knocked to the ground and robbed last summer by two young men with a fake gun when he was out walking his dog, Dante, one of several incidents that spurred the community to action.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has expressed skepticism about the program. “People are concerned about their security, I’m concerned about their security,” she said in a December media briefing in which she called private security patrolling public streets a slippery slope. “Responsibility under state law and local law to patrol our streets lies exclusively with the Chicago Police Department.”