rent-a-cop

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rent-a-cop

A hired security guard. The affix "rent-a-" alludes to rental services, especially for automobiles, and is used here to imply that the security guard is like an inferior, low-budget version of a police officer. It should be easy to steal the jewels. There are just a couple of rent-a-cops guarding them. After getting kicked off the police force, I worked as a rent-a-cop in the local mall.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

rent-a-cop

A hired security guard. Usually uniformed but, unlike genuine police officers, unarmed, they are used to monitor malls, concerts, and schools. The term dates from the 1900s. Thus, “I don’t know what good it will do but inner-city high schools always use rent-a-cops.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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