Southern Pacific Railroad History Center


Police Department

The police department is a part of the operating department.  However, it provides many diversified services for nearly every department of Southern Pacific.

Most the railroad police functions fall with the classification of being protective or investigative.  The protective services are furnished are considered as being of first importance.  While the beneficial results cannot always be measured in monetary terms, experience indicates that the prevention of any crime or depredation is more economical than investigating after the damage has been done.  Nevertheless, the department must conduct investigations to develop, if possible, the identity of those responsible for offenses, and also collect data and information for other departments of Southern Pacific at their request.

The department is organized along the lines similar to federal, state, and municipal agencies also engaged in law enforcement.  Southern Pacific’s force, like other law enforcement agencies, is composed of commissioned law officers, not merely private security guards.  The operations of the department are under the general direction of the chief special agent, who has a staff to assist in the overall direction of the department.

If Southern Pacific’s widespread properties could be visualized as compressed into a relatively large city, it might aid in providing a better understanding of its police department.  Cities are divided into police districts so that each area may receive proper protection, and to improve supervision.  While completely integrated into one department, each operating division on Southern Pacific, police wise, can be compared with a city police district.  The special agent assigned to each division, has the responsibility of directly supervising the police work in that territory and their position can be compared with that of a captain of police in a city.  An assistant special agent is also assigned to each division, and that person functions similar to a lieutenant of police in a city.  The sergeants and patrol forces are almost always in uniform and spend most their time on Company property.  Those personnel who are investigators, work in plain clothes, except when uniforms are required to make their presence known.

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