Police Department Privilege Escalation

It’s easier than you think to create your own police department in the United States.

Yosef Maiwandi formed the San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority—a tiny, privately run nonprofit organization that provides bus rides to disabled people and senior citizens. It operates out of an auto repair shop. Then, because the law seems to allow transit companies to form their own police departments, he formed the San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority Police Department. As a thank you, he made Stefan Eriksson a deputy police commissioner of the San Gabriel Transit Authority Police’s anti-terrorism division, and gave him business cards.

Police departments like this don’t have much legal authority, they don’t really need to. My guess is that the name alone is impressive enough.

In the computer security world, privilege escalation means using some legitimately granted authority to secure extra authority that was not intended. This is a real-world counterpart. Even though transit police departments are meant to police their vehicles only, the title—and the ostensible authority that comes along with it—is useful elsewhere. Someone with criminal intent could easily use this authority to evade scrutiny or commit fraud.

Deal said that his agency has discovered that several railroad agencies around California have created police departments—even though the companies have no rail lines in California to patrol. The police certification agency is seeking to decertify those agencies because it sees no reason for them to exist in California.

The issue of private transit firms creating police agencies has in recent years been a concern in Illinois, where several individuals with criminal histories created railroads as a means of forming a police agency.

The real problem is that we’re too deferential to police power. We don’t know the limits of police authority, whether it be an airport policeman or someone with a business card from the “San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority Police Department.”

Posted on March 15, 2006 at 7:47 AM67 Comments


Andrew March 15, 2006 8:37 AM

Isn’t this really a social engineering hack? From the time we played Cops ‘n Robbers we’ve learnt that the police have certain powers and authority.

Call these company units what they really are: security firms.

radiantmatrix March 15, 2006 8:57 AM

I think the real problem is that our society has begun to attach tremendous authority to the concept of a “police force”. We are taught from a young age that a police force can only do good — I remember being instructed to “always obey the police” in grade school.

While some of that can certainly be chalked up to over-simplification for young children, nothing I recall from my later school experiences taught me any different. It was only through other adult friends that I learned a healthy distrust for police power.

Until we find a way to restore education that truly teaches people that they are in power, and that all power they grant to a government (whether executive, legislative, or judicial) should continually be questioned, I’m not sure we will ever have a handle on the issue. As it stands now, anyone who answers to the duty of continually questioning authority is branded as a kook.

Andy March 15, 2006 9:02 AM

Aren’t you underestimating Americans? Would you really be deferential to the Sherif of Pocahonta County if you’re not under his jurisdiction?

Roy March 15, 2006 9:06 AM

In southern California, donors to campaigns for sheriffs and police chiefs are getting ID cards and metal badges which let them impersonate police officers. On the back of each card is a disclaimer that nullifies what’s on the front of the card, but of course the back of the card will never be presented. The badge’s disclaimer is on the back of that same card.

arl March 15, 2006 9:08 AM

While you may be able to create the entity, most states have other standards which must be met before anyone can call themself an officer.

Come to think of it they might get themself into a bigger jam than if they were just pretending.

Mike Sherwood March 15, 2006 9:30 AM

I never knew it would be so simple. I’m jealous. Some friends and I had previously considered that it would be possible to establish a city in the middle of nowhere, and through majority ownership of the area, create policy for the city. Cronyism at it’s finest. =)

As much as this shows a clear weakness in the system that is being actively exploited, I have to give this guy credit for creativity and playing the system.

roy March 15, 2006 10:11 AM

Penn State University (aka ‘Joe Paterno U’) used to have campus security. Now it has its own police force. The security force was sad, but the police force is scary.

Maybe what we need is legislation to enable the citizenry to form its own police forces to police the police, with authority over the police.

Of course, the regular police, finding themselves outnumbered, outpowered, and outgunned, would desert — and stop being a problem.

Arturo Quirantes March 15, 2006 10:21 AM

Which brings us the question, who gives the police its powers? It’s clear where some law enforcement bodies got theirs (the federal/state Congress), but who is to decide whether Springshield is a real police body, and what powers it will have?

In my country at least, security guards are not allowed to do many things. If a Metro guard wants me to produce ID card or empty my pockets, there’s nothing then can do sort of calling in the real cops. They have no powers to make arrests of fine anyone.

Arturo Quirantes March 15, 2006 10:28 AM

@ Andy,

“Aren’t you underestimating Americans? Would you really be deferential to the Sherif of Pocahonta County if you’re not under his jurisdiction?”

Law-enforcement bodies like the FBI, DEA, etc, seems to think their jurisdiction is the entire world. If President Bush (Sr) invaded Panama because he felt like it to get a foreign head of state for drug charges, why not Sheriff Lobo? Maybe he feels my webpage hosted in Nowherestan is violating a local regulation (“hey dude, children are not allowed to read about Darwin in our public school, and you’re not doing anything to prevent it”) and pronto, here’s my subpoena! Of course I don’t expect to see the Pocahonta SWAT team storming my house next day … but things can get funny next time I step into a plane heading to the USA.

Never underestimate

NotThatMo March 15, 2006 10:43 AM

I think one real distinction is do these smaller police forces send their officers to the local police academy. The DC Metro Transit Police have to go to the academies in DC, Maryland and Virginia, because the system operates in each jurisdiction. They also have their own training program. Takes nearly a year before they are ready for the streets.

Seems like these transit entities should have the right to apply to the legislature for a police force, but it shouldn’t be automatic.

T March 15, 2006 11:38 AM

@roy: Why is it “sad” that an organization of 50,000 people (over 15,000 boarders), with billions of dollars in assets spread over 20 km^2, should employ a security force? Would the police be any less “scary” if they were cast as regular state police, without current limits on their jurisdiction? What do you see as the appropriate safety/security/law enforcement structure for state property, if not state police?

Mike March 15, 2006 12:36 PM

The real problem is that we’re too deferential to police power.

Next time you want to challenge police power, let me know. I’d like to watch…

jackjack March 15, 2006 1:27 PM

“The real problem is that we’re too deferential to police power.”

Americans have become very docile, and we have come to think that the domineering attitudes of law enforcement that are regularly displayed on “COPS” are normal and OK.

It’s only when you travel outside the country that you realize this isn’t normal everywhere. Yet.

Davi Ottenheimer March 15, 2006 1:54 PM

Some history of police forces in the US might be helpful here…some cities in the midwest, for example, essentially had competing armed brigades (constables and volunteer night watches) in the mid 1800s that basically only represented their own ethnicity. In fact I remember a story about the Irish police in Milwaukee that said they were very prominent (competing with the Germans and Polish) until a fund-raiser to buy weapons went horribly wrong when their party-boat sunk in a lake Michigan storm with all the leaders aboard.

So, I think it’s important to note that American police forces were, by definition, always organized by local groups and local government (where it existed) to represent the local interests. In other words, since they were not federally administered, the police forces did not all pop up together and work under a common law. They were in fact born out of localized conditions/needs, and the large cities obviously had very different structure and timing than emerging communities in the West (e.g. there’s an important social dynamic related to who and what was settled along the Oregon trail versus the Gold Rush/49ers).

As Harry Truman once said “There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.”

B-Con March 15, 2006 1:59 PM

Obviously handing out “polic” credentials to everyone and their dog isn’t a good thing, but what’s the solution?

Frankly, I would say that the most effective way to counter the threat of a numbskull trying to pass himself off as a real cop would to be to a) ensure that Average Joe is able identify the different “types” of police with ease (all he/she really needs to know is the difference between government and “private” police) and b) educate Average Joe on what powers the various levels of police do and do not have (it’s critical that they understnad what powers they DO have, because a cop that doesn’t command his due respect is practically useless).

I use Average Joe here because the senarios in which police authority can be abused is so far and wide it’s impractical to try to isolate only the areas of biggest abuse. Besides, that which is common knowledge is always better than that which is only knowledge on the job — it becomes second nature more naturally.

Davi Ottenheimer March 15, 2006 2:20 PM

@ B-Con

What, you don’t think certification by California’s Commission on Police Officer Standards and Training is a good standard?

Ironically, as we might decide that the US police system might need to shift away from its origins and more towards a nationally recognized standard (for improved authentication, etc.) other countries with nationally managed police forces are very likely to be moving more towards the US model of localized standards and management…

Andrew March 15, 2006 2:48 PM

Police agencies in California are supposed to be accredited by POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training), and many are — but not all, as the article points out.

Without meeting state standards, a police officer has few powers beyond that of a security guard, who can carry weapons and make citizen’s arrests.

As a professional in the security industry, I am often amused at the schitzophrenic attitude that many people have towards police and security professionals. When people need us, we’re incompetent buffoons who are never there. When people don’t need us, we’re wanna-be busy-bodies who throw our limited authority around.

There is a long history in California of quasi-police, quasi-security agencies. “Neither fish nor fowl nor good red meat . . .”

Hospital and community college security departments with limited police powers; community college and state university police who function only as security; special districts who create their own police agencies immune to public oversight (as when a BART Police officer shot an fleeing unarmed juvenile in the back about a decade ago . . .); housing private security agencies with law enforcement database access and authority for warrantless entry; the list goes on and on.

With respect for law enforcement, it is appropriate to call dispatch to verify the identity of an unmarked unit or plainclothes officer. However, once you know that you are dealing with a peace officer, at least in California you are required by law to cooperate with lawful commands — and failing to “defer to police authority” in the field can not only generate an amazing variety of criminal charges, but get you unlawfully (but try proving it!) beaten up.

As for private security, their powers on public property are nearly non-existent. But on their own property, private security’s practical power often exceeds that of the police. A police officer cannot easily eject a homeless person from the public sidewalk; but a security officer can eject said homeless person from the shopping mall.

I am concerned about the creeping Federalization of police powers, and their immunity to oversight. My attitude towards local police agencies is generally “How can I help you?” My attitude towards the Feds, especially “Department of Homeland Security Agents” is more along the lines of “Show me the law that compels my cooperation, or get out of my office.”

Senji March 15, 2006 6:29 PM

As an amusing counterpoint is that the University of Cambridge in the UK does have it’s own legally constituted police force and jurisdiction for justice of all but (IIRC) the highest kind. It tends to delegate these powers back to the state however.

Rich March 15, 2006 9:02 PM


“Americans have become very docile, and we have come to think that the domineering attitudes of law enforcement that are regularly displayed on “COPS” are normal and OK.

It’s only when you travel outside the country that you realize this isn’t normal everywhere. Yet.”

My taxi driver was sure quick to defer a 100 rubles to that cop who pulled us over in Moscow.

I think humans, like dogs, recognize who has more power in a particular situation and do a pretty quick cost/benefit analysis on the option of defering vs. fighting. Of course deciding to defer opens that chance of being bluffed.

Dimitris Andrakakis March 16, 2006 2:58 AM

@ B-Con:

Why not have one police force, or at the most two (FBI and “state police”, whatever you call it in the US) and call every other a “security service” –which is what they actually do anyway.

That would probably help in solving the social engineering hack that applies whenever anyone is called “the (whatever) police”.

BTW here in Greece (ok theres a slight difference between US-300M and GR-11M people 🙂 there’s only one police. All the rest are just “security guards” or “security services”.

Alex March 16, 2006 5:33 AM

In southern California, donors to campaigns for sheriffs and police chiefs are getting ID cards and metal badges which let them impersonate police officers. On the back of each card is a disclaimer that nullifies what’s on the front of the card, but of course the back of the card will never be presented. The badge’s disclaimer is on the back of that same card.

I’m sure Hunter S. Thompson used to carry something along those lines. A Policeman’s Benevolent Association card. In fact, this entire story is intensely Thompsonesque – the fake police, the Swedish gangster, the great red shark Ferrari..

J.D. Abolins March 16, 2006 7:34 AM

The Executive Director of the NJ chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union wrote an essay fitting this police credentials topic.
Time to Tell Jersey Police: License, Please

Published in the Star Ledger on February 16, 2005.


We take it as a given that any profession or occupation that involves interaction with the public will be regulated by a state agency. Accountants, architects, attorneys, cosmetologists, dentists and doctors are required to undergo training, meet selection standards and, if they commit misconduct, have their licenses or certifications revoked by the regulating body.

But what about police officers or sheriff’s deputies? As incredible as it sounds, in New Jersey the public is better protected against recklessmanicurists and dentists than rogue police officers.

In recent weeks, two cases reported in The Star-Ledger illustrate our need for a system to certify and decertify police in New Jersey.


This raises the matter of not only how a person or an organisation is established as a police unit but also how that status can be effectively retired or ended. Echoes the challenge of net admins managing user accounts and the risks of a fired-for-cause ex-employee using an active account to act out.

Davi Ottenheimer March 16, 2006 11:41 AM

@ Alex

Good point. There’s nothing more annoying than a phone call from someone claiming to be a fund-raiser for the local sherrif’s office, since there is absolutely no way to know who they really are and where the money will go, and those revenue generating speed traps aren’t much better. Small towns in America are notorious for requiring ticket quotas from their officers as a means of self-funding (obviously targeting out-of-towners, or folks who didn’t give at the office). Missouri, for example, actually passed a state law to try and cut down on this nefarious practice:


Rodent March 16, 2006 12:37 PM

Sounds great.

I’m off to get my dad’s old train set from when he was a kid, set it up in the living room, and then form my own police station (the Living Room Transit Authority Police Department). I’ll democratically elect myself police chief, and then apply for federal funding.

So, should I go for the blue uniforms or the black ones?

greybeard March 16, 2006 3:08 PM

I don’t know if this has been touched on, but to my mind, the true benefit of setting up one of these greymarket police agencies, is to aquire restricted market items easily, and legally. Products like professional grade badges (not the cheap looking crap that you see at swap meets) and id’s, uniforms, body armor, “police color” light bars for vehicles, vehicle conversion kits, tear gas grenades, and on and on. Many vendors only require that the purchase order be accompanied by a letter of authorization on departmental letterhead, signed by the chief. What a great way to project authority where none really exists.

I also wonder how many hoops BATFE makes LEAS jump through in the purchase of Class III weapons and firearms? (fully automatic rifles/pistols/things that go boom.) Do they also require a registration stamp/cert. for each item or are LEAS exempt from those regs?

Maciej March 17, 2006 4:49 AM

In my country (Poland) private uniformed security guards are abundant all over the place – company buildings, shopping malls, parking lots, hotels, you name it. Additionally, there are all kinds of formal security bodies (airport, rail, municipal, court etc.) whose authority is regulated by special laws. However, only one organization is allowed to call itself the police. You can recognize a policeman/woman when you see one – there is a standard uniform, cap, badge, car – and it’s also pretty well known what police can do which the other guys can’t (such as stopping your vehicle). Thus, while any uniformed rambo can act intimidating, in day-to-day business only the police are treated (and deferred to) as “real” law enforcement.

jon March 17, 2006 11:22 AM

At SUNY Albany, they have “Peace Officers”, which only have authoriy on campus, but can leave campus for hot pursuit.
In New York City until about ten years ago there were three major police forces, all with full investigative and arresting power. The regular NYPD, the Transit Police, and the Housing Police. The Transit Police patrolled the cities bus and subway system, the Housing Police were responsible for housing projects. All three had essentially the same uniform, with minor differences, except for the transit police who could wear shorts in the summer.
In addition to these three forces, there are also the Port Authority Police, MTA Police(another transit authority department), in addition to State Police, and county sheriff.
They’ve since combined the three main forces which were previously the three biggest in the state.

wolf March 17, 2006 1:29 PM

Did that guy really say the best part of being a fake cop would be the good badge?

hahaha gimme a break. face it the types of people who are drawn to police work aren’t the type that any of us want walking around with a gun anyhow. I’ve known plenty of them unfortunately and none were in my opinion mentally nor emotionally stable enuff to operate a slingshot without supervision.

I have often thought we would be better off if we replaced all the cops with some sort of right for the individual to carry a gun and protect himself. but yeah thats prolly just to crazy to ev er happen

lance March 23, 2006 3:19 PM

everyone should be able to carry a gun and protect himself is not crazy – it happens all the time – and crime goes on. most crime is not perpetrated on a person it is committed to attain property or money…..most frequently when the victims are not aware of what is going on.

when i went to work for a large metropolitan agency over twenty years ago, aside from a few private security firms, bank, hotel, and assorted “night watchmen” we were the only game in town. now – not only do we have a transit police force, a school district police force, and several hospital police forces – every elected local constable has his guys is prowling the streets writing traffic tickets and the like…..

i think in allowing the proliferation of police agencies state legislatures have ignored basic economic principals….. though the oversight of diverse functions would require certain specializations within an agency, the amount of money that could be saved by having only one oversee all of these functions would be tremendous…..

we are being taxed out of our heads so that people who run a school district or transit authority or…….can exercise control over the way that the law is enforced in their particular concern.

ROBERT CROCKETT April 7, 2006 10:10 PM

Ihave a boat that is parked on the side of the road. A neighbor apperently called on my boat and trailer being parked there. instead of the officer ticketing the vehicle he came and knocked on MY DOOR informed me that i was parked on a right of way,asked for all of my I>D>info then told me that he was going to inform all deputies about the tag.my daughter was on the computer in front of the door and he never asked her any info and my wife was on the couch and he never asked her for info but he sat outside of my house while he ran his search on me for appx. 20 mins. what gives him the right to knock on doors issueing a WARNING TO TOW VEHICLE PLEASE RESPOND THANK YOU

Clive Robinson April 8, 2006 1:01 AM


“what gives him the right to knock on doors issueing a WARNING TO TOW VEHICLE PLEASE RESPOND THANK YOU

Technically you did… Afterall you do vote at elections did you not? It’s what democracy is supposed to sort out.

Sadley, it does not matter who you vote in there will always be sombody with an “Personal Issue” in authority over excersising their remit.

The problem is if you chalenge it you first get the “their only doing their job” then when you push the issue you get “What’s your problem buddy”. As you push harder you get “It was a momentry lapse of judgment do you want to get them fired”. Pushing further occasionaly leds to strange occurences happening to you or your immediate relatives (like patrol cars following you down the road or parked just up the street etc). Eventually if you push it far enough somebody in authority takes token action (which achieves nothing) and you are expected to accept it…

Dan April 23, 2006 3:26 AM

I am thoroughly convinced that some people are idiots and should be prevented from reproducing. The moron who wants to know what “gives him the right to knock on your door” and give you a warning. Are you kidding? There are state/local laws/ordinances that you were obviously breaking and he is obtaining your information for his report as you are the owner of the boat, Not your wife or daughter….Would you have preferred a summons instead?

jason May 9, 2006 9:56 PM

I know that the hospitals here in Ohio are real police and they act like it. Sad thing is they do there job better than the city police and the county sheriff. By the Ohio revised code Hospital police have county wide jurisdiction and can stop you anywhere in the county and issue you a citation for a traffic violation. I know the ones I deal with are very professional and they go thru the same academy as anyother agency in this state.

Nigel Tolley June 22, 2006 5:02 PM

I find it very odd that the UK is suddenly running in this direction, too.

For near two hundred years we had a single police force, organised into separate and discreet constabularies. Suddenly, and with no fan-fair, we suddenly have park wardens pretending to be policemen, a new traffic police, “community wardens” armed with radios to call the real police, and so on. All this surely just detracts from the ability of the real police to act properly, leading to them “requiring” Draconian powers to keep the peace and “war on terror” when they feel like it.

The insane proliferation of new laws and the ramping up of available penalties doesn’t help either. Suddenly, reading the wrong webpage or not giving your password will get you longer in prison than stabbing someone. And that doesn’t help create a stable and well-adjusted society.

Mac June 29, 2006 8:33 PM


Is this a joke?

You are complaining that instead of simply towing your vehicle away, he took the time to knock on your door and warn you about it? He gave you the chance to move it so it wouldn’t be towed?

And that gets the response ‘who gave him the right to knock on my door and warn me’ !?!?

Sheesh, if that’s the worst complaint you have of the police force, then you live in a pretty idyllic place …


Brunson August 11, 2006 8:30 AM

Let me tell you guys something about this “jurisdiction”. In Indiana, as it is in most other states, anyone who is sworn-in as a police officer has “jurisdiction” ANYWHERE in the state they are sworn-in to. Of course they are generally supposed to stick to their city/county/district/campus/whatever but if something happens outside of that, as long as its in their state, they can exercise their full police powers if necessary. Some of you guys act like some transit/campus/hospital cops have partial police powers and that if they’re not city/county/state then they’re not ‘real’ police — rule of thumb: if their cars say police, their badges say police, and they identify themselves as police, then they most likely have full police powers and they are POLICE.

Dan January 6, 2007 2:19 AM

“….as it is in most other states, anyone who is sworn-in as a police officer has “jurisdiction” ANYWHERE in the state they are sworn-in to.”

Brunson is right on target with that post, here in CA a law enforement officer has powers statewide. My hat is off to this guy for doing his research and pulling it off. He knew that powers to arrest are derived from the POST certified officer with PC 832, not the agency itself.

Markied January 23, 2007 6:01 PM

In California you do not need to be POST trained and certified to be hired as a police officer.
That job is given to you at the discreation of the person in charge of whatever department wants to hire you.
POST has only been around for about 30 years here. Up to that, most were hired then went to a 6 week academy.
Many small towns here in CA still hire that way.

swordandanchor January 27, 2007 12:08 PM

You do not need to be POST certified to be hired as a Police Officer in CA but you do need to go to a POST certified academy to be one. (Otherwise you are a security guard) There are some people grandfathered in but everyone else must meet the standards. The BART PD shooting involved a suspect (matching the description for an armed robbery) fighting the officer for his shotgun and when unsuccesful, attempting to flee.

Deezle April 7, 2007 11:22 PM

I know of a Police Department in a School district in Duquesne, PA where Officers are regarded as security guards. They are well trained Policemen sworn-in at the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. I think it’s a disgrace that these officers have to be lable as security guards. They make arrest and cite students for numerus offenses. My honest opinion is that not knowing or being in the denial of knowing is a sign igornants. There emblem (Patch) say’s Police. No where on the uniform or badge reads the word “SECURITY”

Chief April 18, 2007 10:54 AM

In response to Deezles’ comments he is actually correct. Even during court, students and even most if not all parents refer to us as “Security”. That is just ignorance, and ignorance is a “lack of knowledge”. Often times the district justice, or common pleas judge has to correct the improper terminology during proceedings. Once a judge asked a defendant “do you see security anywhere on his uniform?” He is a police officer, no different from any other police officer out in the world. Even though it is getting better, I blame the school district because there was no formal presentation when the police officers first came on board and the transition was made from a private security company to a school police department to “police” the school district. Most schools are used to private security companies to provide security for there school districts and this is where the confusion comes into play. Sadly alot of students had to learn the hard way that we are police academy trained and certified police offficers that have made arrest, write citations, and prepare and deliver court testimony in summary/criminal cases. Chief.

goatman April 22, 2007 1:01 PM

I think the person who originated this thread, Andrew, has a dislike of cops. But I think the public does deserve a clear distinction between security and police. I’ve worked in law enforcement for 6 years and know the range of professionalism can vary widely. One pet peeve I have is with privately owned railroads and colleges having police departments. It should be federal code that unless the organization is a government entity such as a state, city, county, town, village, public college or university, school district, water authority, government owned railroad, or public authority or district etc. they can’t have sworn peace officers. Case closed. If their paycheck isn’t from the government they can’t operate as law enforcement. If they are so large that they need a force they can contract with a local agency.

firedevil June 13, 2007 10:34 PM


The problem with your statement of you saying if they are so large that they need a force they can contract with a local agency is this. There is about 700k police officer in the united states (that’s federal, state, and local government), there is about 1.5 million security officer or security guards (there is a difference between the two by the way, security officer go through state Training, and security guards just go through organization training) there is not enough police officers to do that that’s why they privatize it sometimes. The fact is Police officers don’t make as much as they should so the security aspect dwarves the police. Let’s be real about it local, state, federal can not afford to pay the police what they should make. So by having privatization of police where company’s and places like college campuses fork over the doe to have well trained people provide law enforcement makes better sense to me.

Michelle Kenney June 15, 2007 12:22 PM

This is to the individual who believed that the “Security Guards” because that is what they are in Duquesne, PA were a wonderful organization. Make that judgement once your children have attended the school and experienced the attitude, demeanor and over zealousness of the members of the “firm”. I visited the school and all I visualized was a group of very disrespectful, disrgruntle and judgemental employees who acted like a bunch of cowboys from the wild wild west.

DAVE April 9, 2008 12:32 PM


Cop and Marine August 15, 2008 10:08 AM

In agreement with Dave and in rebuttal to Jon. I know this is an old thread but Jon’s comments are just so uninformed I have to clear the air. SUNY (State University of New York) has its own ‘Police’ they can make arrests 24 hours a day 7 days a week both on and off duty –anywhere in New York State– for misdemeanor and felony crimes. Civil infractions parking/traffic can only be conducted in their area of employment same as NYPD, county sheriffs, and town and village cops. Their paychecks are signed by the NYS comptroller and all are NYS employees just as are State Troopers. If the car says police and the uniform says police you might want to just comply. If you want to question you can do it later–go get your lawyer.

Harold August 24, 2008 4:34 AM

When I did my research about the Duquesne School police. They never graduated from any police academy in PA. I was inform that they had training as Sheriff reserves. A duty in which they provide volunteer “security” details for the Allegheny County Sheriff dept. The city of Duquesne police don’t even know there not police academy trained graduates. You can’t obtain a job with no city police dept. in PA with just training as a Sheriff reserves. It takes over twelve hundred hours of training to graduate. Then you have to pass a exam in Harrisburg, PA to be able to work for any police department in PA. If the school want to hire police, why don’t they stop cutting corners and post a ad at the police academy in PA. For police who are in the process of completing the academy or who has the proper credentials to be policemen & policewomen. There is a blind fold over the city of Duquesne about these school police. I can’t believe Chief Lefty Adams for the city of Duquesne has not look into this matter.

Lawman September 13, 2008 11:27 PM

Harold obviously you didnt research the Duquesne City School Police Dept thoroughly. First there is “no” and let me stress the word “no” qualifications or certifications required to be a “school police officer” in Pa. Read House Bills 768 and 769. It is on the table that school police officers be required under Act 120 but the bill has not yet been passed and has been in debate for four years now. Secondly if you have already been appointed as a “school police officer” by the court of common pleas, and H.B. 768 does get passed, as long as the officers have completed a course similar to the basic police course under Act 120, then they can be certified by the commission as Act 120 (Read Ch. 53 General Assembly of municipalities). Third the Allegheny Co. Sheriffs Dept is the only Sheriffs Dept classified as a “Police Agency” in PA and the back of their Sheriff’s ID’s say that they can enforce the law as a “Police Officer” in the commonwealth of PA. The Reserve Deputies go through a rigid 6 month police training curriculum hosted at the Allegheny Co. Police Training Academy in North Park. Go to their website acsreserve.org They are then sworn in at commencement by the Sheriff himself and have full arrest powers under Title 18. School Police Officers have their own legislation (SECTION 7-778 of the public school code) and if the judge who sits on the bench of the court of common pleas swore them in and MPOETC concur’s that the police course that they attended was similar to that of Act 120 (Title 18, EVOC, PPCT, TASER, OC, FIREARMS, FIRST AID CPR/AED, Criminal Law and Court Procedures, Citations and Arrest Procedures etc.. too many to list) then Chief Adams cannot override legislation and he definately cannot override the courts decision. He has to live with it because it is law! Two of those guys were also Constables, One is still an EMT, They all have Act 235 and they get annual firearms and MPOETC Training updates every year. The School Police Chief and another officer are certified in “Drug Test Kits” among a host of other police certifications. And they are regular students in the ILEE (Institute of Law Enforcement and Education). In my opinion they are more qualified then your hospital and small campus police depts in Pgh and the surrounding areas. Under 7-778 these School Police officers have the pwrs to arrest w/out a warrant, issue citations, enforce good order in schools or school grounds. Can carry firearms if qualified and they are, and have the same authority as the municipal police dept were the school district resides. This is what is stated on their court orders. They also have attended police modules over the past two years and all of the Sheriff’s training that they have had are from certified MPOETC Instructors that are current police officer who work for police municipalities in Edgewood, Clairton, Elizabeth Boro Etc.. I know these things because i use to be the attorney for the school district that researched their credentials and they are official. MPOETC allows colleges across PA to incorporate their own police curriculum as long as MPOETC approves of it. And Act 120 is a little over 800 hours not 1200. The State Police issued them an ORI number and stated that they are an “Accredited Criminal Justice Agency”. Allegheny County issued them identifying ID numbers and they have direct comms with 911. I read and presented all of the documents to the court of common pleas of Allegheny Co. Most small campus’ and Hosp. only require Act 235 and they are sworn police officers under Act 501, while these guys have much much more training then just Act 235. They are a good and professional crew and they are there to protect the staff and faculty from the outside threat. But remember what i stated, as of this message you dont need any type of training to be a school police officer (i hope that changes real soon you should be required to have some police training). Last, Chief Adams has reviewed their credentials and he is ok with it (if the PSP and FBI are, then Adams has no choice) and they have also done details for the Sheriff in the City of Duquesne alongside Adams officers. They also are on the same frequency as the City Police and they communicate with them via radio when needed. Remember the Allegheny Co. Sheriff’s Dept are defined as “police officers” in this state of PA and they are the only Sheriff’s Dept. who have that classification. Pgh Police training cirrulum only consists of three months of classes and the other three months is on the job training. Trust me if you hear something different it is not true..i use to be a Pgh Officer! Alot of Police Agencies are allowed to have their own training standards and that is one of the many problems with MPOETC and the PPCD. 134 police departments in Allegheny Co? That is absurb in a county this small and they cant figure out why these small boros can only afford to pay their police officers $8 or $9 per hour and no benefits? Ending note: The only person who can obtain a job with a police dept. is if they are hired as the Chief of Police. They then have a full two years to become certified.
“Never Confrontational Just Stating the Facts”

Police Officer October 7, 2008 11:32 AM

Lawman, I work outside of the City of Duquesne and I did research the school’s police department. I have to give you credit, they are official. I just couldn’t imagine the court of common pleas of Allegheny County to appoint them as police officers in this commonwealth without no police training at all. I also can concur with the Allegheny County Sheriffs’ Office being defined and recognized as a “Police Agency” and the only Sheriffs’ Dept. in the State of PA to have such recognition. Those guys did attend a six month police training curriculum at the Allegheny County Police Training Academy hosted by the Allegheny County Sheriffs’ Office, but taught by certified MPOETC instructors. When i went through Act 120 it was at the same place and it was six months long also. A buddy of mine from the Pennsylvania State Police conducted a background investigation on their department and they are just as official as my department or any other police department in PA. With the ecomony crashing and the Terrorist pledge to kill 2 million Americans post 9-11, we need all the police officers that we can get because it’s about to get real ugly on American soil. God Bless the men and women in blue!

Norm the Storm November 22, 2008 7:05 AM

I’m a Law Enforcement officer in a neighboring community near Duquesne. Seen those officers outside the Duquesne School. But my question is, did any of the officers have to complete training for act.120 certified. I’m currently doing research with the Chiefs of police Association to have them do background checks on these officers. I’m very concern for these officers getting a lawsuit. Their are alot of people who are out to get a lawsuit against us of the law enforcement field. We have even arrested a sheriff reserve deputy for perpetrating as a law enforcment officer. I believe Duquesne School needs their protection. But these officers need to be protected too. I back them 100%.

Norm the Storm November 22, 2008 7:20 AM

Duquesne School district police needs to be protect under act.120. Not just the school district.

Official One November 23, 2008 7:51 PM

Whoever posted the last two blogs prior to this one has no clue and i mean no clue about legislation that exist for “special police”, “Act 501”, or school police officers in Pa. A good friend of mine ask me to respond to the moron who posted the last two blogs. Listen up and for the last time. It seems that Lawman and Police Officer do know what they are talking about. Pa is like the only state that can appoint police officers that have a minimun of an Act 235. Yeah we can all argue that 235 is a joke. But it is a course that is overseen and accredited by the Pa State Police or “Police Gods”. This is why we have campus and hospital police officers in Pa with only “235” training. It is all that is required. As far as contacting the Chiefs Association, that wont work either. They have no power of the courts or legislation. Like it or not, if the Courts are for it then NOBODY CAN STAND AGAINST IT! Period! And for the moron who posted the last two blogs, first learn your laws, and secondly any person who is hired as a Chief for a police department does not have to be Act 120. And there are plenty of them out there! Im done!

Official One November 23, 2008 8:05 PM

Oh i forgot one thing, if this moron arrested a Reserve Deputy Sheriff who is trained and sworn in by the Sheriff himself i hope you get sued! They are sworn law enforcement officers with arrest powers only when they are on duty like any other police officer. Better yet if you know of any deputies, ask one of them if you can read the backside of their credentials. You’ll be surprised! They are issued the exact same Id’s, badges, and uniforms as the full time deputies are. You guys who post this crap call yourselves police officers? Please! I bet you spent thousands of dollars to attend the police academy and make $8.00 per hour and no benefits. Reserve deputies get free police training up at North Park for six months as long as they work for free for the Sheriff. Ignorance is a lack of knowledge! And this is what you are…extremely ignorant!

"The Real World" November 24, 2008 7:44 AM

A buddy of mine called me this morning and told me to read the argument about the police officers of Duquesne School. Wow! It is easier than you think to establish your own police dept. in Pa. It sounds as if there is alot of jealousy going around. Leave these officers alone for crying out loud! Someone posted that they are going to contact the Chiefs of Police Ass. because he feels that they need to be covered under Act 120. Act 120 is only a number just like Act 44, Act 2, and Act 235. The Chief of Police Ass. does not override the Court of Common Pleas and have no leverage nor do the Chiefs have any say-so with legislation that gives school police their authority. When i researched section 7-778 of the public school code, this law has been established since 1949. Currently you only need an FBI clearance, fingerprints and a childline registry. You can have a 120 and if your number is not activated then you are certified by MPOETC. Act 120 is just training. There are plenty of people who have the training but are not certified. In other words you went thru Act 120 but are not a police officer until you are hired by a police dept. Upon graduating from the Academy your still not recognized by MPOETC until you are sworn and hired, then you are issued a number (your ssn#) and only then are you placed in the MPOETC database. Period! Childrens Hospital Police, Magee Womens Hospital and Chatam College or Pgh are only 235 and they are sworn police officers with full arrest powers. Yup only because 235 it is a course that is commissioned by the Pa State Police. Even though it is titled “Lethal Weapons Training” you are still taught general law under title 18, defensive tactics and handcuffing techniques. It seems to me that there are some haters out there. Get a life and leave these men and women alone who put their lives on the line so that our children can have a better future. Besides these men and women who do police our schools possess more training than just the required “235”. I hope that Norm is not a police officer because as Official One stated “learn your laws” or forever stay ignorant and continue to speak of things that you dont really have a clue on. It sounds as if your not a cop at all.

Vince December 2, 2008 7:42 AM

I’m a retired police officer from PA. I been reading all the back and forth bickering about what you need to have to become a police officer. Bottom line, if you don’t have a diploma from a police academy, you cannot take the exam in Harrisburg. The courts cannot override that. Why don’t your employer send you officers to the police academy? There are grants out there, they can get to send you officers there. This madness need to cease! Grow up children! Kapeash!

F. Milano December 10, 2008 9:21 AM

Duquesne City School Police has highly trained policemen. They do a hell of lot more than are city of Duquesne police officers. Those school officers make are city officers look very sad. I’m going to voice that at the next city town meeting, because we need officer of that caliber to fight crime in are city. And not them jerks we have on the police force now. Starting with Beavis & Butthead>Lefty and his son Scottie.

R. Qualters December 10, 2008 4:44 PM

I agree with you! I a tax payer in the city of Duquesne and we need efficient officers to patrol these streets of the city of Duquesne. Those officer of the school do an excellent job! Why not let them work for the city? They do make the city force look bad. I remember days ago in Duquesne, we had dedicated policemen who cared and lived in this community. We need that now! To many disrespectful young folks these days walking the streets of Duquesne! Give these officers the oppourtunity to be City of Duquesne policemen. They can’t go wrong. I stand behind them with my support that they will be great. They care about are school students, which is are future in this city of Duquesne. Duquesne needs a change for a safer community! I’m a life-time resident of 53yrs. We had good policemen and can have them again if city hall would wake up.

Charles January 4, 2009 2:50 PM

I’m sure there are reasons why training is important, but it’s only one factor. The problem is that the police forces are very bad at weeding out those who habitually abuse their authority. There are many reasons, but certainly one is the same reason that lawyers have the same weakness and so do doctors. Professional (in the broadest sense) groups tend to protect “their own”.

However, in the case of police abusive officers tend to give the entire profession a very public black eye when they aren’t properly dealt with. (And, unfortunately, even officers who act correctly will be called abusive at times. Sigh.)

Then there’s the problem that police prefer to do what’s safe and easy rather than what’s important for public safety. This again is expectable, but that doesn’t mean it is acceptable. But as someone earlier said police aren’t paid enough for they work they ought to do. I sure wouldn’t want the job. (Particularly with the number of truly insane laws on the books. I couldn’t live with myself if I enforced some of them.)

Seth Andrews February 26, 2012 8:06 AM

In any state you are required to pass police boards also called POST. This is approximately 1000 hours of police training including the high liablity areas of firearms, use of force, driving, law, and defensive tactics. Most agencies require two years of college from an accredited university just to start and some form of miltary training or a combination thereof. Police agencies should mirror the military. To be a second lieutenant a four year degree is required, a basic training regimen of eight weeks, and OCS.

Seth Andrews February 26, 2012 8:14 AM

All the people who gripe and moan about police misconduct are the same ones that want to have their own goon squad. Police academies need to be closed down; re-certified and at least regionlized.I would prefer a federal training facility. They are just better. The average R/D or R/P needs to go into college for two years and then live at an academy for his/her training. The only exceptions to that would be a military honorably discharged vet. They would then just need to take the academy format of 1000 hours. The police “profession” is still just a vocation. Professionals go to college and actually graduate at least in some area remotely related to their “profession”. Police not so much…, stop crying and moaning about cops; start training them better and paying them better you will get a better product. The military found that out forty years ago.

Ken Williams March 1, 2015 4:20 PM

I do not claim to be an expert on police and security personnel, or police departments and security companies. To lighten this up before my comments and/or questions, I will say that I have witnessed a police officer here in Texas actually do traffic stops to other officers in marked cars, from other cities, for an illegal turn at a particular intersection. That surprised me. Now, the subject of departments, etc. I may be mistaken; but, I believe it was the State of Texas (I don’t know which agency, or if the Legislature allowed this) that allowed Baylor Healthcare to form it’s own police department for patrol of it’s hospitals and clinics and the surrounding areas – I’ve never witnessed them stopping someone where an incident didn’t originate on their property, although it could happen. They have the same authority as a municipal police agency. The DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit)is basically set up the same way, and they have the authority to make a stop if they witness you driving around the crossing arms if they are in the down position for an oncoming train. There are security companies that have armed and unarmed officers; but, I admit I don’t know the total difference in the two – I do know the armed security officers require more training and experience than the unarmed officers. I don’t remember how many years back; but, an armed security officer was charged with murder over a shooting he was involved in. It is a touchy situation on whether you want state certified police officers only to protect you and your family, and your property, or if you want state certified security officers (who get paid way less). And, all the police you see on cops do not have bad attitudes towards the public. One officer I know personally told the COPS crew that he would not tolerate disrespect of the people he had to encounter on his shift. He maintains that attitude personally when there are no camera crews with him. He’s just one example of an officer that really cares about the ones he is paid to protect and serve. Those type don’t get the recognition they should.

2020 October 11, 2020 2:10 PM

Reading this is 2020 wondering if I could pull something like this off today.

I am a lawyer but would love a private police firm for my office and commuting around clients who need extra security.

Heck, I’d wear the police uniform in the office with chief rank on it. 100% I would.

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