Security police

In some countries, security police are those persons, employed by or for a governmental agency, who provide police and security services to those agencies' properties.

Security police protect their agency's facilities, properties, personnel, users, visitors and operations from harm and may enforce certain laws and administrative regulations. Most security police have at least some arrest authority. The law enforcement powers of security police vary widely, in some cases limited to those of private persons yet in others amounting to full police powers equivalent to state/provincial, or local law enforcement.

As distinct from general law enforcement, the primary focus of security police is on the protection of specific properties and persons. This causes some overlap with functions normally performed by security guards. However, security police are distinguished from guards by greater authority, often higher levels of training, and correspondingly higher expectations of performance in the protection of life and property.

In other countries, 'security police' is the name given to the secret security and intelligence services charged with protecting the State at the highest level, including responsibilities such as personal protection of the head of state, counter-espionage, and anti-terrorism.

Types of special police and similar organizations

Special police may include:

  1. Campus police, who are often hired and sworn in as state law enforcement officers, such as the Los Angeles School Police Department or City University of New York Public Safety Department
  2. Housing police, such as the New York City Housing Authority Police Department, who protect publicly owned housing or "housing projects"
  3. Airport police such as the Los Angeles Airport Police
  4. Hospital police such as the New York City Department of Health and Hospitals Police and the Texas Medical Center Police.
  5. Park police, with full state police officer powers such as the New York State Park Police, who primarily protect the often vast properties of their employing agency
  6. All uniformed United States federal police agencies such as the U.S. Capitol Police, the Federal Protective Service, and the FBI Police, whose officers are sworn in as federal law enforcement officers with the duty to provide police and security services to federally owned buildings
  7. Capitol police, who protect state properties such as legislative and executive buildings, which can also include executive protection functions
  8. Some County police, such as the former Los Angeles County Office of Public Safety, who provide restricted services to local governments
  9. Special police (also see Auxiliary police), in the protection of public properties, such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum which is protected by sworn Special Police Officers as authorized by D.C. Code, § 4-114 (1981)
  10. Court officers, such as New York State Court Officers, who provide police and security services at court houses
  11. Company police to provide security police services on company or private property by contract, where local law permits private organizations to contract for police powers; this for example includes railway police

All special police officers derive their authority from two sources:

  1. the laws of their nation, territory and/or municipality
  2. the property rights of their employing or contracting agency or activity, which may be public or private or a mixture of both

These powers might include the power to detain, arrest, investigate criminal offenses, carry weapons, employ force, and/or take other actions to protect life and property beyond that of the ordinary citizen. One key distinction is between "sworn" (or bound by oath or affirmation to uphold the laws even at personal risk), and "non-sworn" or "civilian" who are ordinary employees with normal obligations to an employer.

Some security police are full-fledged peace officers with the same powers as regular Peace Officers. Others have enhanced powers which are limited by law to the properties they protect, or a specified radius or distance. In some cases these powers are expanded by a Memorandum of Understanding or other legal document where other policing agencies delegate additional powers to enforce local law.

Some special police have the more limited powers than a security guards in compliance with the laws of their jurisdiction. These distinctions are of particular importance to special police and their employers.

(special police) or Security police around the world

Australia Australia

The RAAF Security Police is responsible for base security and policing the RAAF and they work closely with the Airfield Defence Guards. The Military Working Dog Unit also provides a further security function.

Each state police force in Australia employs a team of officers known as Protective Security Officers (PSOs). Stationed in and around public or government buildings, these PSOs are armed (to varying degrees) and wear a slightly different uniform. They are also called upon by regular police officers if the need arises. They generally undergo training at the state police college and share many resources. Some police officers have used the PSO path as a stepping stone to their current roles.[1][2]

Germany Germany

The Polizei beim Deutschen Bundestag (Polizei DBT, commonly known as Bundestagspolizei) is the smallest and least known police agency in Germany. It is responsible for the protection of the premises of the Bundestag in Berlin. Because the chief of the Bundestagspolizei is the president of the Bundestag and not the Minister of the Interior, it can not be called a federal police agency. The number of their officers is not published yet. The Bundestagspolizei recruit their staff from all German police agencies, only skilled officers are accepted.

Hong Kong Hong Kong

A special division of the Hong Kong Police Force, known as the ATU, has been engaged by airports in Hong Kong, to provide security services. These personnel have higher fitness standards and are issued with heavier firepower, than ordinary HK police officers.

India India

The Indian central government maintains several security police forces:

CISF is The Central Industrial Security Force (established in its present form: June 15, 1983) is a paramilitary security force in India.To protect public properties and private properties

It is one of the largest central paramilitary forces in India. Strength is nearly 105,000 and rivals other countries when it comes to a Government agency providing security to such a large number of industries. Many of the international airports in India were the responsibility of the city or district police. CSIA for example, was originally serviced by members of Mumbai Police (then known as Bombay Police), but contract for security has been handed over to the CISF.

Railway Protection Force (RPF) known for protecting the railways of India and ensuring safety of citizens in trains.

The Defence Security Force protects Ministry of Defence property.

Japan Japan

In Japan, Security Police, also known as "SP" are law enforcement officers that provide security for domestic and foreign dignitaries. Their role to dignitary protection is similar to that of the United States Secret Service and the United States Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service.

Malaysia Malaysia

Police patrol personnel monitoring on the residence of VIP property. The police patrol mobile unit is a part of the C4-i Implementation System.

The Royal Malaysian Police are generally responsible for protecting and policing the airports, seaports and government sites in Malaysia. Unlike several other countries, there is no state police for individual states.

Portugal Portugal

The Navy Establishments Police (Portuguese: Polícia dos Estabelecimentos da Marinha) is a small security police force responsible for protecting several of the facilities of the Portuguese Navy, including the Navy Central Administration buildings, the Lisbon Naval Base and the Navy Museum. The Navy Establishments Police is a non-military service, in contrast with the Naval Police (Polícia Naval) which is the Portuguese Navy's military police.

South Africa South Africa

During the 1960s the South African Security Police were known for detaining and interrogating members of the public, often leading to the victims death or disappearance, especially in the height of the Apartheid era. In 1980 it was replaced by the National Intelligence Service.

Sri Lanka Sri Lanka

During the 1990s the Sri Lanka Police created a sub unit with its members known as Police Security Assistants. They were mostly limited to protection of police and governmental facilities.

Sweden Sweden

The Swedish Security Service is known as the Security Police.

Taiwan Taiwan

The Special Police (保安警察, Bao-an Jingcha) is known as the Security Police of Taiwan.

United Kingdom United Kingdom

Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Security Guard Service is a civilian armed guard service in which all civilian security officers are attested as Special Constables which provides security at Ministry of Defence establishments in Northern Ireland while the Belfast International Airport Constabulary is a small, specialised police force responsible for policing Belfast International Airport, Northern Ireland.

United States United States

In the United States, the laws concerning peace officers vary widely from state to state within a larger federal system. Each state legislature with approval from the governor has the ability to modify the powers of peace officers in their state through legislation. Park rangers or Park police are generally stationed at the different National parks across the US.


Most, if not all, of the federal government's uniformed police officers are security police who primarily serve to protect federal property and personnel. An example would be the Federal Protective Service who protect federal buildings.

Officers of the Transportation Security Administration look after the country's entry-exit points and may also work alongside local/state police, depending on that location. This department performs various duties, including luggage and passenger screening. Some officers are armed and have powers of arrest. Many officers get to travel on flights and wear civilian clothing to blend in with the surroundings. Their main purpose is to prevent terrorism or hijacking. There are a multitude of other agencies which perform security related roles in the Federal Government, including the US Mint Police (guarding the US Mint) and US Secret Service (guarding the White House and certain Government buildings). See Federal law enforcement in the United States for a list of US Government security police forces.

By States

Some major cities such as Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston have a security police service separate from their city police. These may be employees of a public agency or private contractors.


The complexity of special policing and special police authority is illustrated by these examples, which are not meant to be exhaustive.

In California, peace officer powers are granted by the California Penal Code under a number of different code sections. Cities, counties and special districts are authorized to form their own law enforcement agencies. Peace officer training is regulated by a state agency, Peace Officer Standards and Training or POST. This training can consist of as little as a 40-hour PC 832 course (for park rangers, probation officers or fire investigators who might make an arrest in the course of their duties), or as much as a 700-hour POST Basic Academy (for entry level peace officers).

Security guards (including off duty peace officers) may only carry firearms in private employment if licensed by the state licensing authority, the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services. Persons regularly employed by public agencies as security guards, however, may be exempt from BSIS regulation, if they have completed POST-certified training in accordance with PC 832 or other Penal Code sections. However, security guards employed by a private employer are still regulated by BSIS even though the client may be a public agency.

Orange County

Orange County Sheriff's Department Special Officers are duly sworn and dedicated California Peace Officers under California Penal Code section 830.33/36, who provide law enforcement and policing services for the department in connection with the county bus system, airport, the operations of the local courts and the custody of local prisoners. These Sheriff's Special Officers attend a 16-week training academy at the Orange County Sheriff's Regional Training Academy that instructs new Officers on laws of arrest, firearms training, arrest and control techniques, physical fitness, field and patrol tactics, first responder medical training, and corrections/custody training. Being duly sworn California Peace Officers, Orange County Sheriff's Special Officers maintain peace officer authority both on-and-off duty.

Los Angeles

In the Los Angeles metropolitan area, there are numerous examples of security police with different levels of authority and responsibility.

Many Transit Enforcement Officers have advanced training to serve in specialized functions, such as that of a dispatcher, K-9 handler, rangemaster, or armorer. Furthermore, several officers represent the department in IPSC and USPSA competition through their officially sanctioned shooting team.

Transit Enforcement personnel often work in conjunction with deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Transit Services Bureau, which has been the exclusive contract provider of dedicated law enforcement services for Metro since 2003.

New York City

The Co-op City Department of Public Safety (CCPD) is a public safety force in the Bronx borough of New York City whose duties are to protect the property and citizens of Co-op City, and to enforce state and city laws on Co-op City property.

New Orleans

The City of New Orleans Department of Police in accordance with New Orleans Home Rule Charter section 4-502 (2) (a) (b) and New Orleans Municipal Code 17-271 MCS 90-86, deputizes armed Security Officers, Private Investigators, College Campus Police, City, State, and Federal agencies, within the city limits, with limited Police Power as New Orleans Police Special Officers. New Orleans Municipal Code 17-271 MCS 30-1122 states It shall be unlawful for any person to act as an armed guard unless he is a Peace Officer. Louisiana R.S. 40:1379.1 (b) states the Special Officer, when performing those tasks requiring a Special Officer's commission, shall have the same powers and duties as a Peace Officer. Special Officers may make arrest for felony or misdemeanor offenses on the property or area they are to protect, patrol, or in relation to their direct assignment. The Special Officer when making an arrest may pat down the arrested subject for weapons. Special Officers are to turn over arrested subjects and pertaining evidence to a New Orleans Police Officer. Special Officers or to honor all subpoenas on arrest made and appear in court to testify. Special Officers when not on a particular assignment are regarded as private citizens and have no Police Power. However, Special Officers still may make an arrest for a felony, whether in or out of his presence, while not on a particular assignment, under Louisiana Law CCRP art.214 Arrest by private person; when lawful.

Venezuela Venezuela

The Internal Security Division is a security police unit of the Bolivarian Service of National Intelligence. Dressed with black berets and armed with M16 and M4. This unit provides security at counterintelligence territorial bases and other facilities. They have police power.

Obsolete uses

Nazi Germany

United States

See also



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