New York City Transit Police
The New York City Transit Police Department was a law enforcement agency
Law enforcement agency
In North American English, a law enforcement agency is a government agency responsible for the enforcement of the laws.Outside North America, such organizations are called police services. In North America, some of these services are called police while others have other names In North American...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 that existed from 1953 (with the creation of the New York City Transit Authority
New York City Transit Authority
The New York City Transit Authority is a public authority in the U.S. state of New York that operates public transportation in New York City...

) to 1995. The roots of this organization go back to 1936 when Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia authorized the hiring of Special Patrolmen for the New York City Subway system. These patrolmen eventually became officers of the Transit Police. In 1949, the department was officially divorced from the New York City Police Department
New York City Police Department
The New York City Police Department , established in 1845, is currently the largest municipal police force in the United States, with primary responsibilities in law enforcement and investigation within the five boroughs of New York City...

, but was eventually fully re-integrated in 1995 as the Transit Bureau of the New York City Police Department by New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

In 1997, the Transit Bureau became the Transit Division within the newly formed Transportation Bureau. In July 1999, the Transit Division once again became the Transit Bureau, but remained part of the Police Department. Headquarters for the NYPD Transit Bureau are located at 130 Livingston Street in Brooklyn Heights.


Rapid transit has played an integral part in the lives of New Yorkers for well over 100 years. The first trains ran at grade level and on elevated structures. Underground trains were added on October 27, 1904 when, after taking four and a half years to build, the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) opened to the public. Since both the IRT and the competing BMT (Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit) lines were privately financed and built, they had no police, but only their own private security personnel. The new IND (Independent) lines, however, which began operating in 1932, were owned by New York City and run by the Board of Transportation. These lines originally had "station supervisors" employed to police them, their names having been taken from the NYC Police Department's hiring list.

On November 17, 1933, six men were sworn in as New York State Railway Police. They were unarmed but were still responsible for the safety of the passengers on the IND line as well as guarding the system's property. Two years later, 20 "station supervisors, class B" were added for police duty. Responsible for assisting in the opening and closing of doors and announcing destinations, these 26 "specials" were soon given powers of arrest, but only on the IND line. And thus the New York City Transit Police Department was born.

In 1937, 160 more men were added to this police force. Additionally, 3 lieutenants, 1 captain, and 1 inspector from the NYPD were assigned as supervisors. When the privately-run IRT and BMT lines were taken over by New York City in 1940, the small patrol force on the IND line nearly doubled in size. Now part of the Civil Service system, more Transit supervisors were needed. In 1942, the first promotional exam was given for the title of "Special Patrolman Grade 2" – or what is now known as a sergeant.

The Code of Criminal Procedure was changed in 1947 granting Transit patrolmen peace officer status and by 1950, the number of "specials" reached 563. The following year, exams were held for both Transit sergeants and lieutenants. In 1953, the New York City Transit Authority came into being and assumed control over all the subway lines from the old Board of Transportation.

Beginning in 1949, the question as to who should supervise the Transit Police Department was one which was carefully scrutinized over the next five years by various city officials. The issue being considered was, "Should Transit be taken over by the NYPD?" In 1955, the decision was made that the Transit Police Department would become a separate and distinctly different Department, ending almost two decades of rule by the NYPD. The Civil Service Commission established a new test for Transit recruits, and on April 4, the first appointments from the list were made. An NYPD lieutenant, Thomas O'Rourke, was also designated the first commanding officer of the Transit Police Department. Soon after, Lieutenant O'Rourke along with 9 others, passed the captain's exam. Captain O'Rourke was then appointed as the first Chief of the new department.

With crime on the rise, the number of Transit officers increased so that by 1966, the Department had grown to 2,272 officers. That year, Robert H. Rapp was appointed Chief by the NYC Transit Authority. Under Chief Rapp, and at the direction of the Mayor, an ambitious new anti-crime program got underway. The program had a goal of assigning an officer to each of New York City's subway trains between the hours of 8:00 PM and 4:00 AM. And the Transit Police Department continued to grow. By early 1975, the department comprised nearly 3,600 members.

In 1975, a former NYPD chief inspector and sometime City Council president, Sanford Garelik
Sanford Garelik
Sanford Daniel Garelik was an American politician from New York City. Garelik also served as the first Jewish chief inspector of the New York Police Department....

, was appointed Chief of the Transit Police Department. Determined to reorganize the Transit Police Department, Chief Garelik was also successful in instilling a new sense of pride and professionalism among the ranks. However, the fiscal crisis that began that year was an unexpected blow – especially to Transit cops. Over the next five years, layoffs and attrition would reduce their numbers to fewer than 2,800. New officers would not be hired until 1980. By the early 1990s however, the Transit Police Department had regained all of its former strength and had increased even further.

In 1991 the Transit Police gained national accreditation under Chief William Bratton. The Department became one of only 175 law-enforcement agencies in the country and only the second in the New York State to achieve that distinction. The following year it was also accredited by the State of New York, and by 1994, there were almost 4,500 uniformed and civilian members of the Department, making it the sixth largest police force in the United States.

Over time, however, the separation between the NYPD and the NYC Transit Police Department created more and more problems. Redundancy of units, difficulty in communications and differences in procedures all created frustration and inefficiency. As part of his mayoral campaign, candidate Rudolph Giuliani pledged to end the long unresolved discussion and merge all three of New York City's police departments (the NYPD, the Transit Police, and the NYC Housing Authority Police Department) into a single, coordinated force. Mayor Giuliani took office on January 1, 1994, and immediately appointed William Bratton as NYPD Police Commissioner whose great expertise at police work undertook the mission to fulfill Giuliani's promise and end a problem that had defied final solution for almost half a century. Discussions between the City and the New York City Transit Authority produced a memorandum of understanding, and on April 2, 1995, the NYC Transit Police was consolidated with the New York City Police Department to become a new Bureau within the NYPD. After a reorganization of the Department in February 1997, the Transit Bureau became the Transit Division within the newly formed Transportation Bureau. In July 1999, the Transit Division once again became the Transit Bureau.

Jobs of the transit police

One main task of the Transit Police
Transit police
Transit police are a specialized police agency or unit employed by a common carrier, which could be a transit district, railroad, bus line, other transport carrier, or the state...

 was its defense of the subway system from defacement. Graffiti
Graffiti is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property....

 was very prominent throughout the subway system by the mid-1980s and the city government took a hard line in response, though some saw it instead as a "social trend" and a sign of diversity. The Transit Police, and specifically a new unit called the Vandal Squad began to fine and arrest
An arrest is the act of depriving a person of his or her liberty usually in relation to the purported investigation and prevention of crime and presenting into the criminal justice system or harm to oneself or others...

 those painting graffiti. Founded in 1980, the Vandal Squad’s mission was to protect the subway system from serious criminal acts of destruction like kicking out windows and throwing seats out of train cars. It was only with the Clean Car Program of 1984 that graffiti became the primary focus of this specialized Unit. They also made a policy to remove any work of graffiti within 24 hours of its creation. By the end of the 1980s, the Transit Police had effectively solved the problem of graffiti in the subway system.

Fallen officers

During the existence of the New York City Transit Police Department, 13 officers died in the line of duty.
Officer Date of Death Details
Patrolman John Tuohy
Wednesday, March 20, 1963
Heart attack
Patrolman Lloyd Innes
Friday, June 16, 1967
Patrolman Michael Melchiona
Saturday, February 28, 1970
Police Officer John Skagen
Wednesday, June 28, 1972
Gunfire (Accidental)
Police Officer Sidney L. Thompson
Tuesday, June 5, 1973
Detective George Caccavale
Saturday, June 26, 1976
Police Officer Carlos King
Monday, December 20, 1976
Police Officer Seraphin Calabrese
Sunday, February 24, 1980
Police Officer Irving W. Smith
Friday, February 29, 1980
Police Officer Joseph Keegan
Thursday, June 19, 1980
Police Officer Joseph Hamperian
Thursday, September 22, 1983
Struck by vehicle
Police Officer Irma Lozada
Friday, September 21, 1984
Police Officer Robert Venable
Tuesday, September 22, 1987

See also

  • List of law enforcement agencies in New York
  • Amtrak Police Department
    Amtrak Police
    The Amtrak Police is a railroad police agency that acts as the security and law enforcement agency of Amtrak, a passenger train system in the United States...

  • Utah Transit Authority Police Department
    Utah Transit Authority Police Department
    The Utah Transit Authority Public Safety Department is the law enforcement arm of the Utah Transit Authority transit district. UTA is a government agency, and is a public transit district, made up of the participating municipalities, counties and the State of Utah...

  • BART Police
    BART Police
    The BART Police Department is the police force of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District .The BART Police Department has more than 296 police personnel, of which 206 are sworn peace officers. BART Police officers derive their powers of arrest from Section 830.33 P.C...

  • British Transport Police
    British Transport Police
    The British Transport Police is a special police force that polices those railways and light-rail systems in Great Britain for which it has entered into an agreement to provide such services...

  • South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service
  • New Jersey Transit Police Department
    New Jersey Transit Police Department
    The New Jersey Transit Police Department is a transit police force for the New Jersey Transit Corporation in the state of New Jersey...

  • New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department
  • Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Police Department
    Port Authority Police Department
    The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department, or Port Authority Police Department , is a law enforcement agency in New York and New Jersey, the duties of which are to protect all facilities owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and to enforce state and city laws...

  • Transit police
    Transit police
    Transit police are a specialized police agency or unit employed by a common carrier, which could be a transit district, railroad, bus line, other transport carrier, or the state...

  • Transportation in New York City
    Transportation in New York City
    The transportation system of New York City is a cooperation of complex systems of infrastructure. New York City, being the largest city in the United States, has a transportation system which includes the largest subway system in the world, measured by track mileage; the world's first mechanically...

External links

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