Security police

Security police

Security police are those persons, employed by or for a governmental agency, who provide police and security services to their properties. Security police may have limited arrest authority and they may or may not be able to enforce local laws depending on local law and agency policy. They generally protect their agency's facilities, properties, personnel, users, visitors and operations from harm and may enforce certain laws and administrative regulations. Security police may be endowed with full police powers of crime prevention, arrest, law enforcement and investigation within their jurisdictions and often nationwide.

Security police may also refer to a security agency.

Security police fall into two broad categories:

  1. Non-Sworn security guards authorized to exercise peace officer powers while in the official performance of their duties.
  2. Peace or police officers (State-certified) whose jurisdictions are limited to that state agency or organization which employs them. They may also be police officers employed by private companies to proved the same kind of service on company or private property. These include the various park police forces, (not the U.S. Park Police, which have nationwide arrest authority- for federal laws only- 24/7) university or campus police, who are normally hired and sworn as state law enforcement officers, hospital police, who are usually police hired by a private organization (except the US Department of Veteran Affairs Police), (housing police) who are usually sworn by the local law enforcement agency in their area of operation, and the various U.S. states Capitol Police, who are state employed. Not to be confused with U.S. Capitol Police, who are sworn as federal law enforcement officers. An example of campus police is the Los Angeles School Police Department or George Mason University police, who have the same authority and jurisdiction as a state or local police officer in their respective jurisdictions.

In the United Kingdom in-house security guard forces with no police powers were often referred to as "security police" until the 1970s.

United States

Peace officers not employed by federal agencies or interstate authorities or who do not derive their respective authority from federal laws are sworn by state governments. The laws concerning peace officers vary widely and broad generalizations are not possible. Each state legislature with approval from the governor has the ability to modify the powers of peace officers in their state. For example the New York State Park Police have the same arrest authority as a New York State Trooper. The authority to conduct felony, misdemeanor, and violation arrests twenty-four hours a day- on or off duty- throughout the State of New York.

State agencies

Capitol police and Park police

Local agencies

In the Los Angeles metropolitan area, for instance, there are various examples.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department employs Security Assistants (Security Officer I) and Security Officers (Security Officer II) who assist Deputy Sheriff's and the Los Angeles County Office of Public Safety Police in the protection of various county government facilities. Security Assistants are generally assigned to the Transit Services Bureau of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and serve as fare inspectors.

Security Assistants and Security Officers are also assigned to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Court Services Division in which they provide weapons screening and general security of the county's superior and municipal courts. Security Officers may also be assigned to the Community College Division in which they provide campus security to the county's community colleges. Additionally Security Officers may also be assigned to provide security at other county facilities. Sheriff's Security Officers are not required to possess a guard registration card, baton permit, or firearms permit, since they have completed POST training provided by the sheriff's department training bureau. Sheriff's Security Officers in compliance with applicable laws and regulations have limited peace officer powers while on duty.

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Transit Security Officers are uniformed, non-sworn personnel who serve the MTA (Metro) in a wide variety of capacities, such as providing security for critical transportation infrastructure and internal revenue protection.

Transit Security Officers undergo a comprehensive selection process that is similar to that for sworn peace officers (including a background investigation identical to that for California peace officer candidates, as well as a psychological review and physical agility test), as well as a 600-hour internal training program, which includes completion of PC832 peace officer training at a local POST-approved police academy.

Many Transit Security Officers have advanced training to serve in specialized functions, such as that of a dispatcher, K-9 (explosives) handler, rangemaster, or armorer (whom services the department's Beretta 92FS pistols and Remington 870 shotguns). Furthermore, several officers represent the department in IPSC and USPSA competition through their officially sanctioned shooting team.

Due to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, most Transit Security Officers are able to exercise limited PC830.6 peace officer powers while in the performance of their duties (per PC830.7).

Transit Security 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.

Orange County Sheriff's Department

Orange County Sheriff's Department's Special Officers assist the Orange County Deputy Sheriffs in different functions including policing for the county's mass transit system, civil bailiffs, as well as custody officers, and airport police. The main difference is that the Orange County Special Officer's have more training than the previously mentioned. They are required to attend a police academy which is about half the length of the entire police academy whose completion is required to become a police officer. Additionally the previously mentioned are unsworn staff while Orange County Special Officers are sworn staff.



California state law is very specific on the subject of peace officers working off-duty as security officers -- they must be licensed by the state licensing authority, the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services. Since January 1, 1997, the law has required active duty peace officers who work armed as security guards, or as armed contract PIs, to possess a guard registration, or a PI license, AND an exposed firearm permit issued by BSIS.

California law is less clear with respect to persons working for public agencies as security officers. If these persons have completed POST-certified training in accordance with PC 832 or other PC sections, they may be exempt from BSIS regulation. Officers in doubt should consult with agency legal counsel and/or the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services in Sacramento. All sheriff's security officers, MTA security officers, and other such officers such as general services public safety officers do not fall under BSIS and are all exempt from possessing a guard registration, firearms permit, or baton certification. However, PC832 is not accepted by BSIS as a substitute for BSIS certification while working security in the private sector.


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 Diplomatic Security Service.

Sri Lanka

During the 1990's 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.

See also


  • "A NEW MEMBER OF THE LASD FAMILY" by John Herrera, Star News, September 2006

External links

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