Amtrak Police Department
|Amtrak Police Department|
|Common name||Amtrak Police|
|Operations jurisdiction||United States|
|Legal jurisdiction||Amtrak Rail System|
The Amtrak Police Department (APD) is a railroad police agency and security organization that acts as the law enforcement arm of Amtrak (the National Railroad Passenger Corporation), the government-owned passenger train system in the United States. It is headquartered at Union Station in Washington, D.C., and as of 2019 has a force of 452 sworn police officers, most of whom are stationed within the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak's busiest route.
This quasi-federal agency has primary jurisdiction on Amtrak stations nationwide, trains, rights-of-way, maintenance facilities, and crimes committed against Amtrak, its employees, or its passengers.
Created by Congress, Amtrak's enabling legislation under the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970, now codified starting at 49 U.S.C. 24101, established the authority for Amtrak to have its own police force. The statutory authority was unique at the time and included interstate police powers. The Amtrak rail police law, now found at 49 U.S.C. 24305 (e), states as follows:
(e) Rail Police. —Amtrak may employ rail police to provide security for rail passengers and property of Amtrak. Rail police employed by Amtrak who have complied with a state law establishing requirements applicable to rail police or individuals employed in a similar position may be employed without regard to the law of another state containing those requirements.
In sum, Amtrak police officers have the same police authority as a local or state law enforcement officer within their jurisdiction. They investigate various types of crime that occur within and around stations, trains and/or right of ways. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, APD has become more terrorism-focused. Such mission shift became even more prevalent after the Madrid train bombings in 2004. It maintains a robust K-9 division composed of patrol and bomb dogs. APD officers constantly work in partnership with federal, state and local law enforcement to perform their duties in accordance with the agency's mission to protect America's railroads. In theory, officers have jurisdiction in all the 46 states where Amtrak operates, but are stationed more in busier locations in practice.
Each of the Divisional Commands provide different police services for the geographical area they cover. The different Divisions within the Department can be categorized as the following:
- Patrol Division - Patrol Officers fulfill traditional policing functions. They act as a deterrent to crime in the stations, on trains, in and around Amtrak facilities, and out on the rights-of-way by enforcing laws, providing support at stations, and boarding trains.
- Criminal Investigations Division - The Criminal Investigations Unit is responsible for most follow-up investigations and the coordination of any criminal investigative efforts. This Division includes both investigators and detectives.
- Special Operations Division - The Special Operations Unit (SOU) support Patrol operations by providing rapid response and enhanced capabilities to assist in keeping Amtrak passengers and employees safe. The SOU also conduct training on railroad-specific tactical response and procedures for fellow Amtrak Police Department members and external law enforcement partner agencies.
- Intelligence and Counter Terrorism Unit - The Intelligence & Counter-Terrorism Unit serves as a support element for the different patrol divisions and seeks to increase the safety and security of the passengers and personnel by increasing the department's insight into ongoing threats and potential terrorist acts by the analysis and dissemination of intelligence information.
- Administration - The higher-ranking officers who are responsible for reporting the daily operations to the Amtrak Corporation itself, as well as the responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day functions of the department.
- Operations Support Division- Includes the Training Unit, Quartermaster Unit, a Police Technology Unit, and a Police Report Requests Unit.
- K9 Unit - The Amtrak Police Department K-9 teams provide a deterrent to potential threats from explosives. K9 teams are deployed at stations throughout the system as well as conduct train rides and right-of-way patrols.
- National Communications Center - Amtrak's National Communications Center (NCC) is the coordination center for the Amtrak Police Department. NCC Communications Officers answer calls and respond to text messages from the APD11 "txt-a-tip" system. The NCC also dispatches officers as needed to respond to incidents and events throughout the country.
Rank structure and insignia
|Chief of Police|
|Assistant Chief of Police|
|Detective (Gold Badge/insignias)|
|Special Agent (Gold Badge/insignias)|
In 2016, the Amtrak Office of Inspector General launched an investigation into the then-Amtrak Police Chief Polly Hansen, regarding conflict of interest involving her boyfriend who was awarded a counterterrorism contract she helped oversee, and in whose award Hansen reportedly had influence. In statements, Hansen claimed no knowledge of the boyfriend, but the investigation revealed that they had been cohabiting in a condominium that they jointly owned. In September 2016, after the presidency of Amtrak had passed from Joseph Boardman (who had appointed Hansen in 2012) to Wick Moorman, Chief Hansen resigned.
On February 8, 2017, Amtrak Police Officer LaRoyce Tankson shot and killed an unarmed man, Chad Robertson, who had been spotted smoking marijuana outside Chicago Union Station and was running from police. The bullet was fired from a distance between 75 and 100 yards and struck Robertson in the shoulder from behind. Tankson's attorney, Will Fahy, claimed Tankson saw Robertson turn and reach for what Tankson thought was a firearm and thus believed he was about to be shot. However, four eyewitnesses stated they did not see Robertson gesture having a gun. Tankson was charged with first degree murder and released from custody after posting ten percent of the bail which was set to $250,000. On March 8, 2017, the Amtrak Police Fraternal Order of Police claimed having collected more than $4,000 to help Tankson and contended he fired in self-defense. On February 28, 2020 Officer Tankson was acquitted.
- British Transport Police
- List of United States federal law enforcement agencies
- New Jersey Transit Police Department
- Railroad Guards (Poland)
- "Amtrak Police Department". amtrakpolice.com. Amtrak Police Department. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
- "Amtrak Threatens Police Department Cuts". May 3, 2019. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
Brian A. Reaves (July 2006). "Federal Law Enforcement Officers, 2004" (PDF). Bureau of Justice Statistics. Cite journal requires
- "A Brief History of the Amtrak Police Department". amtrakpolice.com. Amtrak Police Department. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
- "Current Partners". fletc.gov. Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
- "Amtrak Police Patrol". Retrieved May 4, 2019.
- "Amtrak Police SOU". Retrieved May 4, 2019.
- "Amtrak Police Intelligence Unit". Retrieved May 4, 2019.
- "Amtrak Police K9 Unit". Retrieved May 4, 2019.
- "Amtrak Police NCC". Retrieved May 4, 2019.
- Amtrak police officer charged with murder in Chicago shooting, Reuters, February 18, 2017, retrieved on: January 24, 2018.
- Amtrak cop charged with murder bonds out of jail, Chicago Sun, February 18, 2017, retrieved on: January 24, 2018.
- Union raises $4,000 for Amtrak officer charged with murder, The Washington Times, March 8, 2017, retrieved on: February 20, 2018.