Special Jurisdiction Law Enforcement Agencies (page 3)
Special jurisdiction policing has grown substantially in the last 20 years and from all estimates it will continue to grow. According to figures compiled by BJS, in 2004 almost 50,000 full-time sworn law enforcement officers were employed by the almost 1,500 special jurisdiction agencies that participated in the report. Other names by which these departments are known include special-purpose police, special district police, or special enforcement police.
Each of these phrases is meant to describe police officers whose primary jurisdictions are public buildings and facilities, including colleges, hospitals, and public schools; transportation systems; natural resources and parks and recreation; alcohol, drug, and gambling enforcement; and fire marshals and arson investigators. Many public facilities are protected by private security officers or publicly funded officers who do not possess police authority, but a very large number of public or partially publicly funded entities are authorized to hire police officers with powers identical to or very similar to local police. In some instances, these officers may be limited to exercising their police authority only on the property of or in cases connected to their employers, but in some states their powers are identical to those of local police officers and may actually extend across more than one municipality, or even more than one state.
The list of these types of agencies is vast. It is likely that no matter how unusual your interests, there is an agency dedicated to providing law enforcement services to it.
One of the fastest-growing categories of special jurisdiction law enforcement is campus policing. Campus policing also seems to be attracting large numbers of women and minority male applicants to its ranks, possibly because colleges themselves are seen as actively working to achieve both a diverse student population and a diverse workforce. Transportation policing is also growing. As more cities throughout the nation, particularly in the western and southwestern portions of the country, build transit systems to combat traffic problems, pollution, and urban sprawl, many are upgrading existing security departments into full-service police agencies. A number of cities are also creating new police agencies to take over these responsibilities from local police or sheriffs' offices that have provided service on a contract basis or through creation of small, transit-specific units within the departments. Airports also, many of which have depended on sheriffs' deputies or local police to provide patrol services, are creating airport-specific police departments. Because of the number of opportunities in these areas, each is discussed individually.
Campus Police Departments
Campus police departments are the largest single category of special jurisdiction law enforcement agencies. Despite their growth, though, not all campus agencies are police departments. Ninety percent of public institutions employ sworn officers, while fewer than 50% of private institutions do. Size of the institution also plays a role. More than three-fourths of agencies on campuses with more than 2,500 students are state-certified law enforcement agencies. Estimates vary, but campus police agencies counted by BJS employ about 11,000 full-time officers. Most individual agencies are not large, but within the last decade the ratio of officers to students has increased slightly around the country. Part of the increased hiring has resulted from the number of campuses that have increased their use of sworn police officers rather than security officers.
Just the Facts
Campus policing dates its existence to 1894, when Yale University hired two officers to patrol its campus, which was and still is located within the city of New Haven, CT. This set the pattern of campus policing for more than 50 years. Colleges primarily hired a combination of officers who lacked police authority or officers who had retired from the local police force of the city in which the campus was located. Most of these security departments lacked prestige; they were generally grouped under plant and properties, along with maintenance personnel. As the use of automobiles expanded and students and faculty began to drive to school, parking enforcement became the major responsibility for most of these early campus security agencies.
Changes in status and responsibilities began in the 1970s and have continued since then. The first changes were in response to student activism that led to protests and demonstrations on campuses, resulting in a need for enhanced security coverage. Additional responsibilities were also assigned to campus agencies in response to the expansion of higher education. As campuses grew, along with the vast increase in the number of students, colleges began to realize they needed to also expand their security capabilities. Some private colleges petitioned their state legislatures for permission to appoint fully-sworn police officers. One of the first was Rice University in Houston, TX, which helped to set a pattern of converting its security force into a police force. There was considerable cost in doing this because all officers now had to meet state-mandated background and training requirements.
Another impetus for change occurred when Congress enacted the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990. This required all institutions of higher learning to make available to students and the public annual crime statistics and to have available a comprehensive plan for student safety. This, and a series of later laws, led to a greater focus on campus safety at the same time that statistics indicated a rise in crime on campuses.
To address these problems and to allay fears of students and their parents about campus safety, many colleges have upgraded their security forces into full-service police departments, with armed officers. Campus officers have often attended state-certified police training programs and their departments began to resemble local police departments, with canine units, bicycle patrol, and crime prevention and community policing units. In the 1990s, campuses such as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ohio State University, and two University of California branches (Berkeley and Davis) developed their own Special Weapons and Tactical (SWAT) teams rather than rely on local police departments.
Today SWAT teams, canine, bomb disposal, and other high-profile police specialties are common, particularly on the main campuses of large state institutions. Many campuses are located in small communities, though. The population on campus is often larger than the town population. The campus is often a major focal point for cultural and sporting events. The university is often also the largest single employer in the area. And today it is also not uncommon for the campus police department to be bigger, better trained, and better paid than the local police.
Reflecting these changes, the majority of agencies have changed their names from security department to police department to reflect their broader mandate. Many have also widened the jurisdiction of their officers.
Almost 50% of campus agencies refer to themselves as police departments and another 25% use the title of department of public safety, which often indicates that officers are also responsible for safety programs, crime prevention, and providing emergency medical services on campus. As campuses have spread beyond the college gates to include off-campus residence halls, fraternity and sorority houses, and a variety of classroom and lab buildings, many colleges now obtain statewide policing authority for their officers so that they are able to take responsibility for events both on and off campus.
Campus police departments vary considerably in size, which is not related to levels of authority. The largest number of campus officers, almost 350, work for New York University, and all are nonsworn personnel. A 2004–2005 survey of campus agencies by BJS counted 10 with staffs of between 76 and 166 fully sworn police officers. Indicating that they relied on a combination of sworn and nonsworn officers, some campuses with the largest number of sworn police officers were also listed among the largest employers of security staff. Generally, where a mixed force existed, nonsworn officers were assigned to building security and parking-related duties. With some exceptions, colleges that relied on the largest number of police officers tended to be in urban areas.
Because they work within a highly educated community, more than 25% of campus police agencies require candidates to have a college degree or some college credits to match the education level of the community being served. This is considerably higher than for all other areas of law enforcement except federal policing. Since many colleges and university extend free or reduced price tuition benefits to all full-time employees and their dependents (generally defined as spouses and children), if you were hoping to continue your education while working you may find campus policing an attractive alternative you had not previously considered.
If you are currently studying on a campus with its own police department, a good way to learn about positions is to schedule an appointment with the chief or deputy chief. Many of these departments are not required to hire under civil service regulations. Vacancies may often be filled less formally than those in a local police department. Due to the large number of agencies, as with other areas of policing, it is difficult to make across-the-board generalizations, but there are indications that campus police departments rely to a greater extent on interviews and background investigations of candidates than on physical agility. This is not to imply that patrolling a college campus is so different from patrolling a small community, but it seems to reflect a greater interest in an officer's overall ability to feel comfortable with a more service-oriented rather than a crime fighter's view of the police role.
As campus agencies have begun to more closely resemble other types of police departments, they have increased their emphasis on employing fulltime officers. Despite this, many agencies employ students as part-time officers or for dispatching, parking enforcement, or night-hour student escort services. You might be eligible for a work-study position or for a paid part-time job that can help you to pay for your education. If you are interested in a career in campus policing, either of these options may pave the way for a full-time position once you complete your degree requirements and graduate.
Transportation Agency Policing
Another large category of special jurisdiction policing is related to transportation. About 9,000 police officers are employed by 130 agencies, most protecting airports, but also mass transit systems, maritime ports, and bridges and tunnels. This area of policing has grown and is very likely to continue to grow due to concerns over passenger safety, particularly since transportation networks have been targets of terrorist activity in many countries around the world.
Travelers tend to think of a transit hub, whether an airport, train station or bus depot, bridge, tunnel, or ship or ferry terminal, as a transient place, one that people travel through as quickly as possible and return to only rarely. But this is not at all what these facilities are like. Many, including the largest airports and train stations, are quite literally like cities. There may be thousands of employees who arrive and depart daily. There are also hundreds of thousands—maybe more—passengers, some of whom are regular commuters who park their cars, eat their meals, and do their shopping on the way to or from work, and, particularly in the case of train and bus facilities, pass through on their way from one part of a community to another.
For all these people, the special jurisdiction police are the same as their local police during their time in the facility. Become the victim of a crime and the transportation agency police will take the report and investigate the crime. Have your luggage stolen or your car taken from the parking facility and the transportation agency police will take the report and investigate the crime.
In addition to protecting people, transportation jurisdiction police are also involved in property protection. The infrastructure itself is a potential target. Railcars and tracks, buses, stations and garages, ships and cargo storage areas, airplanes and runways, and bridges and tunnels, for example, all require protection from unauthorized persons. In addition to the obvious terrorist threats, more routine dangers exist due to the potential for accidents in these areas.
Although many transportation agencies assign a larger percentage of their officers to patrol than some large city agencies, transportation police, like local, state, and campus police, often work with canines, especially explosive detection dogs. Many agencies assign plainclothes specialists to counteract the thieves, pickpockets, fraudsters, and scam artists who are attracted to these facilities. Generally, people who are in a rush may not notice they have been a victim of a crime until hours later, which makes them easy crime targets.
Just the Facts
Transportation policing is even older than campus policing. Private railroads established their own police forces as early as the 1840s, when their construction sites were subject to many instances of theft and trespassing. As railroads began to crisscross the country, they discovered an absence of police presence. Because individual police departments developed only as areas urbanized, once the railroads left a particular city's limits, the trains; their passengers, employees, and freight; and the rails and depots were all easy targets for thieves. Train robberies are a staple of many movies depicting crime in the western United States, but they occurred throughout the nation. Less exciting for moviegoers, thefts from rail yards and storage areas were more frequent and a constant problem.
Private railroads continue to employ police officers, but because their hiring processes differ considerably from public agency police and because individual officers may be responsible for large areas that cross state boundaries, the employment opportunities they present are not detailed here. If you live in an area with considerable railroad presence or a city where a railroad is headquartered or maintains a large regional hub, you will likely be able to learn about railroad police from the railroad in your area.
When job candidates think of rail policing today, they are more likely to have in mind urban transit systems, many of which are comprised of both bus and rail. Although not nearly as old as railroad policing, transit policing began officially in 1933 with New York City's subway special police. As early as the 1850s, though, street car operators in a number of cities complained about passengers who were intoxicated or smoking, refused to pay their fares, or preyed upon women, children, and elderly riders. In response, cities began to assign police officers to work on the transit system, sometimes irregularly and sometimes as a regular work duty. Some transit systems hired security guards. As with many special jurisdiction law enforcement agencies, managers and patrons eventually found these arrangements unsatisfactory and fullservice police departments were created and staffed to meet the specialized needs of transit systems.
Today's Transit Police
The two largest transportation agency police departments are located in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan area. Both have twostate jurisdiction. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department (PAPD) employs almost 1,700 officers, all of whom are recognized as police in both states. Officers may work at any of three major international airports (Newark Liberty, John F. Kennedy, or LaGuardia), smaller airports, the bus terminals in New York City, on the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) rail line, or the four area interstate bridges and tunnels. The other large, bistate agency is the 650-officer Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) police, many of whose officers work in New York City's Pennsylvania Station and Grand Central Terminal, but some of whom work at smaller facilities in New York and Connecticut. Both agencies offer salaries and benefits that are comparable with area police departments but are less well-known than municipal police departments in their areas.
Two cities in Texas—Dallas and Houston—also employ police officers for their transit systems. Like the PAPD and the MTA police, these officers are employed directly by either Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) or the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO). Houstons METRO transit officers have an unusual combined jurisdiction of the transit system and the highway network. Other cities, including Washington, DC, Boston, and Atlanta also have independent transit police departments.
Many transit systems developed their own police agencies in part due to the long history of private sector railroads employing their own police, but there is also a practical reason. Many of these systems travel across city, county, and even state lines, requiring police officers to have police authority wherever the trains or buses travel. For instance, officers of the Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in Washington, DC are also recognized by the states of Virginia and Maryland.
Antiterrorist concerns have led a number of smaller transportation agencies, particularly newer, commuter rail lines, to consider upgrading their security departments into police agencies. If you see uniformed officers working on your local transit system, it would benefit you to learn who employs them. Some might be members of the local police department who are assigned to a transit unit and some might be employees of private security companies hired to patrol agency facilities, but some are very likely to be members of the agency's own police force.
Today's Airport Police
Airport police departments developed later but similarly to transit systems. A common development pattern was that local police officers were assigned to an airport and at some point the police department and airport authority decided this was no longer appropriate. The second pattern involved security officers employed by the airport being upgraded to or replaced by fully sworn police officers.
In 2004, almost 100 airports had their own police departments; they employed about 3,000 officers. At most airports, these officers work in conjunction with city or county police or sheriffs' deputies and, since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inspectors. Although their numbers make them highly visible at airports, TSA inspectors are not police officers and must rely on police assigned to the airport if a law is violated.
Rules that require travelers to spend more time at airports have led to a greater focus on policing these facilities. Other than the PAPD, which is not solely an airport police department and is larger than all other transportation police agencies, the four largest airport departments are at the Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Wayne County (Detroit), and Dallas-Fort Worth airports. The Los Angeles Airport Police, with more than 1,000 employees, about half of whom are police officers, is the fourth largest law enforcement agency in Los Angeles County.
Although it is often the largest international airports that have their own police, Rhode Island Airport and the Boise, ID, airport are among the smaller ones with independent police departments. Because of the added responsibilities airport patrol has meant for local departments, a number of cities, including Cleveland, were considering the creation of an airport police department in 2008 rather than continuing to rely on the city police for this service.
A number of airport police departments, like transit police, particularly since September 11, 2001, have added canine units to their patrol forces and have added bicycle patrol of parking lots and outlying areas to increase their visibility and increase their interaction with travelers and employees. Some, including those at Minneapolis-St. Paul (MN) Airport and the Baton Rouge (LA) Metropolitan Airport, are also trained as firefighters and emergency responders, making these jobs particularly sought after by candidates who have fire or emergency medical technician (EMT) training.
Learning about Transit Positions
These agencies are less likely to publicize their police departments than local jurisdictions are. Although a few agencies will list open positions on policeoriented websites or advertise in police-related publications, learning about these jobs from people already in them is often the best route for information. Look closely at the police officers at a transportation facility near you. If the officer's uniform or police patch is different from that of local officers, stop the officer and inquire about his or her agency and jurisdiction. You may be surprised at how much you can learn.
If you have an airport or transit system in your area, you might also check the agency's website for information on its law enforcement arrangements and whether jobs are available. Friends or family members who work in these industries are also a good source of information. If you are a transit equipment fan and are a member of any tour or photo groups, you may also learn about jobs from other people in the group. If your school sponsors work-study options, remember to ask whether these agencies participate. If not and this is an area of interest to you, consider asking the work-study advisor or counselor to include these agencies in the program.