Individuals or corporations in Washington, D.C., who believe they need special protection can ask the mayor to appoint special police officers. The mayor also can commission special police officers during an emergency, such as a riot, and on special occasions, like election days or ceremonies. To qualify for a special police commission, officers must meet several general and commission-specific requirements.
Special Police Officer Commission
The mayor can commission police officers who currently work as police officers in Washington, D.C., or who don’t currently work as police officers. Your commission may require you to stay in one location, such as at a bank, or protect multiple locations, such as traveling with funds going from one location to another location. Your commission will include information about the person or place you are commissioned to protect, if you are required to wear a uniform, if you have to transport or carry firearms and how long the commission should last. Most commissions require you to remain in one police district, though you may need to travel outside of it depending on the nature of your commission.
You must be at least 21 and a U.S. citizen to qualify for a special police commission. You also must have a high school diploma or GED. The mayor can waive this education requirement if you have at least one year of experience working as a special police officer in Washington, D.C. You must know how to read, write and speak English and a doctor must sign off on your mental and physical health and well-being. Your chief of staff also must approve the commission. You must pass a background check, too.
Special police officers must complete at least 16 hours of training. This training covers a range of topics, such as arrest powers, search and seizure laws, the District of Columbia Official Code and the rules and regulation governing use of force. Federal regulations allow you to complete this training within 90 days of your commission’s start date. For as long as you remain a special police officer, you must complete an annual eight-hour in-service training.
Commissioned special police officers must also complete pre-assignment duty-specific training. For example, training can cover terrorism awareness, building evacuation, emergency procedures like first aid, customer service and interacting with tourists. The person or corporation who requested special police officers may also require you to complete additional training as well.
Disqualification, Revocation and Termination
You cannot be commissioned if you’ve been convicted of, pleaded guilty or no contest to or placed on probation as a result of a crime of violence. You also cannot be commissioned if you’ve been dishonorably discharged from any branch of the military. Your commission will be revoked if you exercise any authority of a special police officer outside the commission itself. For example, if your commission requires you to carry a firearm, you can do so only at the location of your commission. Carry the firearm elsewhere and you risk losing your commission. At the end of your commission, you have 24 hours to turn in your badge and any weapons you were issued. If you do not do this within 24 hours, you can be fined up to $300.
William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.