Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Start your own Police Department!

Apparently anyone who owns a taxi and a business license can create their own police department. From today's LA Times:

Sheriff's officials investigating the crash of a Ferrari in Malibu last month are asking how a small private transit company could create its own police department and allegedly hand out law enforcement identification to civilians, including the car's owner.

According to Yosef Maiwandi, it wasn't as difficult as you might think.

The San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority is a tiny, privately run organization that provides bus rides to disabled people and senior citizens. It operates out of an auto repair shop.


Maiwandi said he started the nonprofit organization after receiving a bus in a trade for several motorcycles.

It turns out that a loophole in the law allows transit companies in the United States to create their own police departments. It's not clear from the article in the times what law it is that permits this, but I'm assuming it's federal and dates back to the days when the railroad what passed for mass transit. I single out the railroads because back in my cop days I actually dealt with the Union-Pacific police department and by-and-large they were a pretty stand-up bunch. I particularly liked Maiwandi's justification:

He said he formed the San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority Police Department shortly afterward in part because he has long been interested in police work. He also found that having a police department allowed him to do background checks on potential volunteers more quickly and seek federal money for security on the buses.
Yeah, money for security, that's the ticket!

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