Special police

Special police (also see Auxiliary police) usually describes a police force or unit within a police force whose duties and responsibilities are significantly different from other forces in the same country or from other police in the same force, although there is no consistent international definition. A special constable, in most cases, is not a member of a special police force; in countries in the Commonwealth of Nations and often elsewhere, a special constable is a voluntary or part-time member of a national or local police force or a person involved in law enforcement who is not a police officer but has some of the powers of a police officer.


Special police is not a term used in Canada. The closest term used is Special Constables, which exist in several forms with various degrees of Peace Officer powers according to their duties and employers (most government).

In general Special Constables do not carry firearms, but may employ other equipment for protection.


In the People's Republic of China, the Special Police Units are the local equivalent of the U.S.SWAT teams. They are tasked with duties that normal patrol officers are not sufficiently equipped to handle, such as riot control and hostage situations. In addition, the Beijing Special Weapons and Tactics and Snow Leopard Commando Unit also fulfill different duties.


In Croatia, Special Police serve as special operations forces trained primarily for anti-terrorism operations. Unlike many western SWAT teams, Croatian Special Police officers are full-time, professional operators with no secondary duties. A total of four Special Police units exist in cities of Osijek, Rijeka, Split and Zagreb covering their respective regions. A fifth and most elite unit, ATJ Lučko is stationed in Zagreb and has jurisdiction over the entire country.

Former Yugoslavia

Macedonian special police

The Special police were a branch of the Regular Police who are used for Restoring peace and stability if they have been heavily disturbed, Counter terrorism, Countering violent groups, and repressing riots (especially in prisons). The Special Police also provide security and public peace, to investigate and prevent organized crime, terrorism and other violent groups; to protect state and private property; to help and assist civilians and other emergency forces in a case of emergency, natural disaster, civil unrest and armed conflicts.


Eidiki Katastaltiki Antitromokratiki Monada or EKAM (Special Anti-Terrorist Unit), was created in 1978 and became part of the Hellenic Police. ΕΚΑΜ operators take orders only from the General of the Hellenic Police. The unit and its operators protect the Greek citizens from acts of terrorism, including but not limited to bombings, kidnappings and hijackings.

Hong Kong

Main articles: Special Duties Unit, Counter Terrorism Response Unit, Airport Security Unit (Hong Kong), Maritime Emergency Response Team, Surveillance Support Unit, Very Important Person Protection Unit, and Witness Protection Unit


Indonesian National Police (POLRI)

Indonesian National Police Special Units:




Malaysian PGK A operatives moving crosshairs during the Close Quarters Combat drill at the killing house before raid. The first operative is equipped with Tactical Shield. Taken at the PGK A Special Operations Killing House in Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur.

New Zealand

"Special Police" is not a term actively used in New Zealand. Aside from the New Zealand Police, special powers are derived in legislation for customs officers, Fisheries Officers, and also Fire Police. The Fire Police hold the full legal powers of a Police Constable when on official duty; Customs Officers, Fishery Officers, Aviation Security Officers, have limited powers (including the power to arrest or detain) in particular circumstances.

Sri Lanka

The Special Task Force is a special police unit that is somewhat equal to the US SWAT teams, however they have broader responsibilities such as Counter-Terrorism, VVIP protection, bomb and EID disposal, etc.[1]



Special polices in Republic of China (Taiwan) includes Thunder Squad of municipal governments (local police departments), Peace Enforcing Special Service Forces aka "Wei-An" Forces of Ministry of the Interior, and Military Police Special Services Company Code-named Night Hawk of Ministry of National Defense.

The 7th Special Police was a unit of the National Police Agency and later evolved into what is now the Republic of China Coast Guard.


United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, special police force has a special meaning in law and describes one of the forces defined as such in legislation including:

They are distinguished from other police forces by having duties and responsibilities associated with particular legal or illegal activities rather than the geographical areas which are served by a single territorial police force.

There are several such forces:

The National Crime Agency (whose full powers are limited to England and Wales) is not a police force but an agency responsible to a Secretary of State; however, its workforce includes constables drawn from various UK police forces.

United States

In United States terminology, special police can mean:

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.

Smithsonian Museum Special Police in NY & DC

Main article: Smithsonian Police

The Smithsonian museum utilizes federal employees designated as "special police" under the United States Code (Title 10, Chapter 63, §6306). These officers patrol Smithsonian property in New York and the District of Columbia. Smithsonian Special Police Officers carry firearms (In New York only supervising officers carry firearms), mace and handcuffs and have arrest authority on federal Smithsonian property.


In Kentucky, special police officers are Special Law Enforcement Officers (SLEO). They are a sworn peace officers with limited jurisdiction. They have full legal police powers; explicitly including arrest authority, the ability to carry a weapon, and use emergency vehicles. However, their jurisdiction is specifically limited to public property that they have been hired to protect. While Kentucky law allows both the State and local governments to use SLEO's, most are used by the Kentucky State Police in the Facilities Security Branch.


In Massachusetts, Special Police Officers are either similar to reserve or part-time police officers and part of a regular police department or they are Special State Police Officers and are part of a college or university police force. Special Police Officers attend and graduate from the MA. Police Training Council Reserve & Intermittent Police Officers Academy/[2] There are also a continent of special police officers who work in the city of Boston; these officers either work directly for the city (school police, municipal protective service) or for private security companies (housing projects).

North Carolina

In North Carolina, some private companies have their own special police forces. These include hospitals, hotels, race tracks, and shopping malls and are more properly referred to as "Company Police". There are also companies that offer contract special police services for a fee to anyone who has property they wish to protect. In the state of North Carolina, special police differ greatly from security companies. Special police officers have full arrest powers on any property they are hired to protect within the state as granted by the North Carolina Attorney General. Special police officers must also attend and pass the Basic Law Enforcement Training program like all other police officers. Security officers do not have arrest powers as their job is to mainly observe and report.


The Texas Special Police were formed along with the Texas State Police during the administration of Texas Governor Edmund J. Davis on July 22, 1870, to combat crime statewide in Texas.[3] There were 30 special policemen assigned as auxiliary officers throughout the state.[3] On April 22, 1873, the law authorizing the state police was repealed by the newly elected Democrat controlled state legislature.[4]

Texas state law authorizes mayors to appoint Special Police Officers to enforce the municipality's laws, avert danger, or protect life or property; because of riot, outbreak, calamity, or public disturbance; or because of threat of serious violation of law or order, of outbreak, or of other danger to the municipality or its inhabitants. (§ 341.011. SPECIAL POLICE FORCE IN TYPE A GENERAL-LAW)[5]


Virginia possesses special police officers employed, typically, in the private police field. These officers are regulated by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services and are termed Special Conservators of the Peace aka SCOP. These officers must meet specific training requirements and be sworn in by the District Court Judge/Magistrate in the area where they request a commission. These officers, when so sworn and certified, are permitted to utilize the term 'police' and are permitted to operate emergency vehicles equipped with red flashing/strobing lights (municipal law enforcement operates either blue or combinations of blue and red).

This class of officer should not be confused with Armed Security Officers in Virginia who possess arrest authority on property they are employed to protect. Armed Security officers do not have fresh pursuit authority (off of their grounds/property) whereas SCOP officers do.


The San Francisco Patrol Special Police is a neighborhood police force authorized in the City Charter, with officers appointed and regulated by the Police Commission after an initial security review by the San Francisco Police Department. Hourly rates for service are principally paid by private clients, with some cost to the City for general program administration concerning standards of professional performance, but not concerning day-to-day operations. Thus, the nature of this special police force is both quasi-private and quasi-public. The force has been in operation in the United States, city of San Francisco for over 162 years. By current City Code the force provides patrols on the streets of San Francisco as well as at fixed locations, and also provides a range of other safety services as requested by private clients.[6]

New Orleans, Louisiana

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.


The Ministry of Public Security has a High Command of Mobile Police Force. It includes 6 regiments of Mobile Police and 3 battalions of Special Police.

See also


  1. Special Task Force, Sri Lanka Police
  2. http://www.wellesleypolice.com/index.cfm?pid=10402
  3. 1 2 Ann Patton Baenziger, "The Texas State Police during Reconstruction: A Reexamination," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 72 (April 1969)
  4. John G. Johnson, "STATE POLICE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/jls02), accessed April 09, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
  5. "Texas Local Government Code - Section 341.011. Special Police Force In Type A General-Law Municipality".
  6. http://sfpatrolspecpolice.com/

External links

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