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Special police

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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.


  • Canada 1
  • China 2
  • Croatia 3
  • Former Yugoslavia 4
  • Greece 5
  • Hong Kong 6
  • Indonesia 7
  • Ireland 8
  • Italy 9
  • Malaysia 10
  • New Zealand 11
  • Sri Lanka 12
  • Sweden 13
  • Taiwan 14
  • Turkey 15
  • United Kingdom 16
  • United States 17
    • Smithsonian Museum Special Police in NY & DC 17.1
    • Kentucky 17.2
    • Massachusetts 17.3
    • North Carolina 17.4
    • Texas 17.5
    • Virginia 17.6
    • California 17.7
  • Vietnam 18
  • See also 19
  • References 20
  • External links 21


Special police is not a term used in Canada. Special Constables exist in several forms with various degrees of Peace Officer powers according to their duties and employers.


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), created in 1978 and became part of the Hellenic Police.ΕΚΑΜ operators should take orders only from the General of the Hellenic Police.That unit and its operators have to protect the Greek citizens from terrorism actions such as a bomb,a kidnap or a hijack.

Hong Kong





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. Of those mentioned, 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 (霹靂小組) of municipal governments (local police departments), Peace Enforcing Special Service Forces aka "Wei-An" Forces (維安特勤隊) of Ministry of the Interior, and Military Police Special Services Company (憲兵特勤隊) Code-named Night Hawk (夜鷹部隊) of Ministry of National Defense.


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:

Note: 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.

Constables of the special police forces generally have constabulary powers when operating within the legal or geographical area they are responsible for. If a territorial police force (or one of its constables) asks for assistance, or if police action is required and it would be impractical to wait for an officer of the local territorial force to arrive, then constables of special police forces can exercise their "extended jurisdiction" giving them powers to deal with the situation.

Although all territorial police forces in England and Wales have Police Community Support Officers (PCSO), currently the British Transport Police is the only special police force to employ them. This is somewhat limited though as they are only deployed in England and Wales and not Scotland due to the limitations of the Police Reform Act 2002 that empowers PCSOs. This act does not extend to Scotland.

In the United Kingdom, the basic phrase "special police" has no particular meaning and is not usually used to describe a member of a special police force in preference to standard descriptions; "special constables" are voluntary and/or part-time members found in both territorial and special police forces.

United States

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 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

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]

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.


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)[3]


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.[4]


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. ^
  3. ^ "Texas Local Government Code - Section 341.011. Special Police Force In Type A General-Law Municipality". 
  4. ^

External links

  • Article from San Francisco Chronicle
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