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  • Railroad Police

    I am interested in hearing from anybody that has experience with any Railroad Police Departments. I have read that they are granted police authority in most states, not mine, but most states. It looks like they are sort of a cross between traditional police agencies and private security companies. Do most railroad police agencies handle everything themselves or do some sub-contract certain tasks to private security companies?

  • #2
    Both of Canada's commercial railways (Canadian National & Canadian Pacific) have their own police forces with their powers from the federal railways act. However they are very small. Last I heard the CN force had less than 100 members for the whole country.
    I enforce rules and regulations, not laws.
    Security Officers. The 1st First Responders.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Jim1348 View Post
      I am interested in hearing from anybody that has experience with any Railroad Police Departments. I have read that they are granted police authority in most states, not mine, but most states. It looks like they are sort of a cross between traditional police agencies and private security companies. Do most railroad police agencies handle everything themselves or do some sub-contract certain tasks to private security companies?
      I'm assuming you're are talking about Railroad Police here in the United States? I've work quite a few cases with the Railroad Police in Ohio when I was in LE there. I know in Ohio they have to be certified peace officers, meaning they have to go through the same training as Ohio police officers.
      Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
      CoAuthor - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

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      • #4
        Ive interacted with Railroad police a little bit. Out here they are certified police officers with the authority to conduct enforcement relating to the railroad. I have heard of some friction between them and traditional police depts and sheriffs offices, and not recognizing their authority. This includes a county jail that would not accept a prisoner when brought in by RR Police, and another county dispatcher refusing to run a suspect's name, instead telling the RR officer the person was "clear" when in fact he had a felony warrant and was known to be aggressive toward and assault LEOs.

        You see them far and few between out here. Mostly in rail yards and train depots. On the eastern side of the state you can sometimes catch them doing railroad crossing traffic enforcement.

        Recently I was ran out of a public area by a railroad police officer because he was misinterpreting a "No trespassing" sign. The sign was for a small fenced off area that the sign was on. He interpreted it as everything beyond that sign. I used to do security for the client which affixed the fencing and the sign and tried to explain it to him, but I figured it wasn't worth mine or his time to argue about it so I simply departed.
        "Alright guys listen up, ya'll have probably heard this before, Jackson vs. Securiplex corporation; I am a private security officer, I have no State or governmental authority. I stand as an ordinary citizen. I have no right to; detain, interrogate or otherwise interfere with your personal property-... basically all that means is I'm a cop."-Officer Ernie
        "The Curve" 1998

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        • #5
          Railroad Police

          Originally posted by Lawson View Post
          .....I have heard of some friction between them and traditional police depts and sheriffs offices, and not recognizing their authority. This includes a county jail that would not accept a prisoner when brought in by RR Police, and another county dispatcher refusing to run a suspect's name, instead telling the RR officer the person was "clear" when in fact he had a felony warrant and was known to be aggressive toward and assault LEOs.....
          Wow, I would have been pretty upset if I had the situation with the felony warrant!

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          • #6
            For some reason they get looked down upon by most police/sheriffs departments.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by macguard View Post
              For some reason they get looked down upon by most police/sheriffs departments.
              I had a great working relationship with the B&O and others, but then I was a felony crimes investigator at the time. I carried the relationship over when I was in command positions. I had little tolerance for disrespect within the surrounding departments.
              Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
              CoAuthor - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

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              • #8
                They do contract out some of their work...checking on rolling stock as it sits on rails looking for thieves and vandals...and even doing traffic enforcement on Railroad property. In California you definitely see RR police officers running traffic enforcement at their rights of way and crossings.

                As to calling another jurisdictions PSAP and asking for information from their system (CLETS in California and DCI where I currently reside) RR police aren't certified for full access and that can cause problems esp for agencies that do not work with them often. Many wont take the chance of losing their own access.
                Last edited by TOII; 06-30-2013, 07:56 PM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jim1348 View Post
                  Do most railroad police agencies handle everything themselves or do some sub-contract certain tasks to private security companies?
                  To answer that last part of your question... yes; nearly all the duties that would be referred to as "guard duties" are contracted out to private security companies. In modern policing, the Railroad Police Departments have become rather small, so the limited police resources they have are used for police work. Several Railroad Police Departments including CSX, Norfolk Southern and AMTRAK have SWAT/ERT and they may be called upon to assist outside agencies.

                  CSX for instance call their law enforcement personnel "Special Agents" and from what I have seen, that is the trend for most of the Railroad Police Departments these days with the exception of AMTRAK Police, which has one foot in the federal government and one foot in the private sector (they are a government owned corporation, NOT a federal agency as most people think).

                  As far as level of authority, Federal Law grants them authority in all 50 states; however individual states have the authority to regulate their officers in terms of licensing/commissioning them to enforce the laws of their state. No different then how a Federal Protective Service Police Officer has the authority to enforce Federal Law, but if he is in a state like Virginia that doesn't recognize Federal Law Enforcement Authority, then he has no power to enforce the laws of Virginia or even refer to himself as the police off of federal property.

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                  • #10
                    ^^^This....

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by macguard View Post
                      For some reason they get looked down upon by most police/sheriffs departments.
                      In MA the Sheriffs department is usually looked down upon, due to their main mission being care and custody of inmates and not so much LE (i.e. patrol, investigations). DOC operates the prisons while the sheriffs operate the jails and HOC.

                      MBTA which is the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Agency has their own police force which in a way is similar to something like BART or the NY transit officers. However they also cover the commute rail which goes to New Hampshire, Rhode Island as well as throughout the entire state.
                      Sergeant Phil Esterhaus: "Hey, let's be careful out there.."

                      THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS WEBSITE/BLOG ARE MINE ALONE AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF MY EMPLOYER.

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                      • #12
                        Personally, I cringe at the thought of some private company having it own fully empowered "police" who answer to the company, not the taxpayers.

                        Slippery slope and all that.

                        The problem is any private company will do anything so much better than "city employees", but then they aren't real police.

                        I'm guessing RR police of private corp don't have the authority to override their private employers 'orders' on stuff like staffing and scheduling "for the public's safety".

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Squid View Post
                          Personally, I cringe at the thought of some private company having it own fully empowered "police" who answer to the company, not the taxpayers.

                          Slippery slope and all that.

                          The problem is any private company will do anything so much better than "city employees", but then they aren't real police.

                          I'm guessing RR police of private corp don't have the authority to override their private employers 'orders' on stuff like staffing and scheduling "for the public's safety".
                          MBTA Police is a civil service position in this state, and you can lateral from their department (which other agencies send their officers to) to another civil service or non civil service PD. I think besides the MSP accademy in New Braintree, MBTA and Boston Police have the toughest academies in this state, just form what i've heard over the years.
                          Sergeant Phil Esterhaus: "Hey, let's be careful out there.."

                          THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS WEBSITE/BLOG ARE MINE ALONE AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF MY EMPLOYER.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by zm88 View Post
                            MBTA Police is a civil service position in this state, and you can lateral from their department (which other agencies send their officers to) to another civil service or non civil service PD. I think besides the MSP accademy in New Braintree, MBTA and Boston Police have the toughest academies in this state, just form what i've heard over the years.
                            Away back in 1972 I took the Civil Service Exam.
                            Passed exam
                            Passed physical exam
                            Good recommendations by a Lt. on the local police department
                            BUT one big problem.
                            Cope is a shrimp
                            All 5'6 and 1/2" of him
                            Height requirements in those days. 5'8"
                            http://www.laurel-and-hardy.com/ Greatest Comedy team ever!

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                            • #15
                              My concern is who does a Norfork Southern, or CSX (as example) "police officer" answer to?

                              http://www.usacops.com/ga/p30309/index.html

                              Says something about "protecting public, etc, etc" but I get the idea that his 'boss' is some corp manager of a private company, but he still has 'full police powers'.

                              Well, it is nice that the company pays for their own cops rather than getting subsidy from taxpayers, but I still have a problem with private corps getting their very own private police who are directed not by some elected Govt but by the private corp.

                              Shouldn't any and all private citizens have same option to hire their very own private, fully empowered, police officers?

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