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Mayor Bowser Announces Proposed Changes to Training Requirements for Special Police Officers, 6/9/16

In United States terminology, special police can mean:

  • Auxiliary police, members of volunteer, unpaid or paid, part-time civilian police, security officer units, interns;

  • Company police;

  • Fire police, members of specialized traffic control units responding with volunteer fire companies;

  • Security police; or

  • Special Law Enforcement Officers - used in New Jersey to supplement full-time police officers;

The term can also refer to limited police power granted in some jurisdictions. 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.

Special Police Officers Washington DC
Washington DC Special Police 

Washington utilizes special police in both the public and private security sectors. Most work for private security companies although many security officers in the Washington DC area also have special police status. They are regulated and licensed by the Washington DC Metropolitan Police. see and


The term Special Police Officer, is any person who is commissioned which have been approved pursuant to this act, and who may be authorized to carry a weapon. They are privately commissioned police officers with full arrest powers within an area or premises which the officer has been employed to protect. The commission is conditional and is required to be renewed each year. D.C. Code, §4-114 (1981).

There are about 7,700 special police officers in the District, and about 4,500 of them are armed, according to Office of the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice. Special police officer shall have the same powers as a law enforcement officer to Arrest without a warrant for offenses committed within the premises to which his or her jurisdiction extends or outside the premises on a fresh pursuit for offenses committed on the premises. D.C. Code §23-582A.

Smithsonian Museum Special Police in NY & DC
Smithsonian Museum Special Police in NY & DC

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.

Virginia Special Police Officers
Virginia posses special police officers employed, typically, in the private police field.

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.

Kentucky Special Police Officers
In Kentucky, special police officers are Special Law Enforcement Officers (SLEO)

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.

Massachusetts Special Police Officers
In Massachusetts, special police officers are either similar to reserve or part-time police officers or they are Special State Police Officers & are part of a college or University

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 Municipal Police Training Council Reserve & Intermittent Police Officers Academy There are also a plethora of special police officers who work in the city of Boston; these officers either work directly for the city (school police, municipal protective service, health commission police, housing police, or BFD arson investigators) or for private security companies. The city of Boston requires some of these agencies to attend a non-state approved academy, that is only 160 hours. The state requires all reserve/intermittent officers to complete 372.5 hours of training, with an additional 20 hours for those carrying a weapon

North Carolina Special Police Officers
In North Carolina, some private companies have their own special police force.

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.

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