Amtrak Police Department

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Amtrak Police Department
Common nameAmtrak Police
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency
(Operations jurisdiction)
United States
Operations jurisdictionUnited States
Legal jurisdictionAmtrak Rail System
General nature
Specialist jurisdiction
  • Railways, tramways, and/or rail transit systems.
Operational structure
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
Police Officers431
Agency executives
Website Edit this at Wikidata

The Amtrak Police Department (APD) is a quasi-federal railroad police department and the law enforcement agency of Amtrak (also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corporation), the government-owned passenger train system in the United States.[1] It is headquartered at Union Station in Washington, D.C., and as of 2023 has a force of 431 sworn police officers,[2] most of whom are stationed within the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak's busiest route.[3]

The APD has primary jurisdiction over Amtrak stations nationwide, trains, rights-of-way, maintenance facilities, and crimes committed against Amtrak, its employees, or its passengers. The APD is one of six American Class I railroad law enforcement agencies, alongside those of BNSF, CPKC, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific.

Since 1979, most Amtrak police officers have been trained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC)[4][5] although some recruits may be certified through a local police academy.


Amtrak Police SUVs outside Washington Union Station in July 2011

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 rights of way.


New York National Guard members and an Amtrak police officer providing security

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.

Police cover[edit]

APD officers 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 generally are stationed in busier locations.[citation needed]

Operational Divisions[edit]

Amtrak Police Department K9 unit

Each of the Divisional Commands provides various 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.[6]
  • Criminal Investigations Division - The Criminal Investigations Unit is responsible for most follow-up investigations and the coordination of any criminal investigative efforts.[6] This Division includes both investigators and detectives.
  • Special Operations Unit - The Special Operations Unit (SOU) supports Patrol operations by providing rapid response and enhanced capabilities to assist in keeping Amtrak passengers and employees safe. The SOU also conducts training on railroad-specific tactical response and procedures for fellow Amtrak Police Department members and external law enforcement partner agencies.[7]
  • Office of Intelligence and Analysis - The Office of Intelligence and Analysis serves as a support element for the various patrol divisions. Through analysis and dissemination of intelligence information, it 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.[8]
  • 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.
  • Support Operations Divisions - Includes the Training Unit, Quartermaster Unit, Police Technology Unit, and Police Report Requests Unit.
  • K9 Unit - The Amtrak Police Department K-9 teams provide a deterrent to potential threats from explosives.[9] K9 teams are deployed at stations and occasionally on trains throughout the system as well as right-of-way patrols.[10]
  • 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.[11]

Rank structure and insignia[edit]

An Amtrak police officer on patrol

Below is the rank structure for the Amtrak PD. Ranks are listed from junior (bottom) to senior (top).

Title Insignia
Chief of Police
Assistant Chief of Police
Deputy Chief
Detective (Gold Badge/insignias)
Special Agent (Gold Badge/insignias)
Criminal Investigator
Police Officer


Amtrak Police Department prisoner transport vehicle

In 2016, the Amtrak Office of Inspector General launched an investigation into the then-Amtrak Police Chief Polly Hansen, regarding a conflict of interest involving her boyfriend who had been 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 an 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.[citation needed]

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.[12] The bullet was fired from a distance between 75 and 100 feet and struck Robertson in the shoulder from behind.[13] 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.[13] However, four eyewitnesses stated they did not see Robertson gesture having a gun.[13] Tankson was charged with first degree murder and released from custody after posting ten percent of the $250,000 bail.[13] On March 8, 2017, Amtrak's Fraternal Order of Police lodge claimed having collected more than $4,000 to help Tankson, contending that he fired in self-defense.[14] On February 28, 2020, Officer Tankson was acquitted.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Amtrak Police Department". Amtrak Police Department. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  2. ^ "Amtrak Threatens Police Department Cuts". May 3, 2019. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  3. ^ Brian A. Reaves (July 2006). "Federal Law Enforcement Officers, 2004" (PDF). Bureau of Justice Statistics. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 26, 2020. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "A Brief History of the Amtrak Police Department". Amtrak Police Department. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  5. ^ "Current Partners". Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Amtrak Police Patrol". Archived from the original on February 4, 2016. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  7. ^ "Amtrak Police Department SOU". Retrieved April 18, 2022.
  8. ^ "Amtrak Police Intelligence Unit". Archived from the original on January 29, 2016. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  9. ^ "Amtrak Police K9 Unit". Archived from the original on February 4, 2016. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  10. ^ Putz, Nastassia (September 2023). "BEHIND THE BADGE". Trains. No. 9 Vol 83. Kalmbach. pp. 14–19.
  11. ^ "Amtrak Police NCC". Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  12. ^ Mclaughlin, Timothy (February 17, 2017). Brown, Tom (ed.). "Amtrak police officer charged with murder in Chicago shooting". Reuters. Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  13. ^ a b c d Esposito, Stefano (February 18, 2017). "Amtrak cop charged with murder bonds out of jail". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  14. ^ Union raises $4,000 for Amtrak officer charged with murder, The Washington Times, March 8, 2017, retrieved on: February 20, 2018.
  15. ^ "Judge Acquits Amtrak Officer in Fatal Chicago Shooting". NBC Chicago. February 28, 2020. Retrieved June 7, 2021.

External links[edit]