Special Police - United States

United States

In United States terminology, special police can mean:

  • Fire Police, members of specialized traffic control units responding with volunteer fire companies;
  • Auxiliary Police, members of volunteer, unpaid or paid, part-time civilian police, security officer units, interns;
  • Special Law Enforcement Officers - used in New Jersey to supplement full-time police officers;
  • Security police; or
  • Company police.

The term can also refer to limited police power granted in some jurisdictions to lifeguards, SPCA personnel, teachers, and other public sector employees which is incidental to their main responsibilities. Special Police Officers (or SPO's) can be employed to protect large campuses such as theme parks, hospital centers, and commerce centers.

Some states, such as Maryland, New York, and the District of Columbia, grant full State Police/peace officer authority to SPOs for use in whatever area they are employed to protect. They can make traffic stops in their jurisdiction if they have had accredited training. They are also permitted to conduct traffic control and investigations pertaining to the area protected by them, while a majority of SPOS are armed with a firearm, some states permit the age for an SPO to be 18, while still they can not carry a sidearm. Special police can make a criminal arrest and run blue strobe lights on their vehicle.

In the United States security officers are involved in law enforcement and have been given the power of police officers, but are operated under a private police agency also known as a security agency. Security officers are special police because they are officers of the law, but employed by private companies offering private police officers to uphold laws, protect, patrol, and guard property under a private party contract.

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