Special Jurisdiction Law Enforcement Agencies (page 4)

Updated on Aug 4, 2010

Parks, Recreation, and National Resource Protection

A third category of special jurisdiction policing includes parks, recreation, and national resource protection. According to BJS, there were more than 200 such agencies in 2004, an increase of 26 over the 2000 profile, employing almost 15,000 police officers. The three largest categories of agencies were fish and wildlife, parks and recreation areas, and natural resources protection, which together employed about 12,000 of the total. An additional 3,000 officers enforced waterway, boating, and water resource laws, environmental and sanitation laws, and forest resources. While these numbers may seem small in comparison to the total number of municipal police officers, this category is solely for state and local agencies; it does not include the large number of federal officers working in national parks and other federal government-operated outdoor facilities.

Like their federal counterparts, many of the officers in these agencies enforce myriad laws. Laws pertaining to boating, fishing, hunting, vehicles in protected areas, use of natural resources, protecting historic sites, and related areas are too numerous to count. Some examples of the duties of some of these agencies may give you some idea of the areas of enforcement you could become involved with. The Missouri State Water Patrol, for instance, is responsible for law enforcement and boating safety on the state's rivers and lakes. Officers are also trained to conduct safety programs as well as in rescue and recovery during floods. Their responsibilities are quite different from New York City's Bureau of Water Supply police, who are tasked to police the city's 21 reservoirs, most of which are located beyond the city's boundaries.

Many of these agencies will be covered by local or state civil service regulations. This will make the positions somewhat easier for you to locate than those of campuses, transit systems, and airports. If you live in a large city, these agencies may not advertise locally. Check their websites, your state's website, or the website of a newspaper located in the state capitol, where announcements of these positions may be more likely to appear. If you participate in any of the activities overseen by these agencies you may already know about them or have had contact with their officers.

If these jobs seem interesting to you, follow the same path as described for transit agencies. Ask officers you see about the jobs and how you might apply. Ask civilian employees of the agencies if a policing arm exists. Ask friends and relatives and college advisors what they know about these agencies.

Other Special Jurisdictions (Hospitals and School Districts)

Some special jurisdiction law enforcement agencies do not fall into the broad categories discussed. The first step in seeking employment in these agencies is to know that they exist.

Many hospitals, particularly public hospitals or those affiliated with a major university, have their own police departments. In addition to regular patrol duties, these officers may have special responsibilities for checking and controlling inventory of controlled substances that are routinely stored in medical facilities.

A number of school districts have their own police. These are separate from campus police agencies and are generally responsible for patrolling and responding to incidents in primary, middle, and high schools.

Although opportunities exist in these areas, you should consider your own personality before making serious inquires about employment. If you get depressed or queasy around sick people and people in crisis, or feel faint at the smell of some medications, hospital policing may not be the best choice for you. Similarly, if you do not like children or will be uncomfortable working with educators, social workers, and parents, being a police officer for a school district may not be a good fit for you.

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