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 federal railroad police department 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 at New York Penn Station in 2012

Since the September 11 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

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

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:

Rank structure and insignia

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 Hanson, regarding a conflict of interest involving her boyfriend who had been awarded a counterterrorism contract she helped oversee, and in whose award Hanson reportedly had influence. In statements, Hanson 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 Hanson in 2012) to Wick Moorman, Chief Hanson 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.[11] The bullet was fired from a distance between 75 and 100 feet and struck Robertson in the shoulder from behind.[12] 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.[12] However, four eyewitnesses stated they did not see Robertson gesture having a gun.[12] Tankson was charged with first degree murder and released from custody after posting ten percent of the $250,000 bail.[12] 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.[13] On February 28, 2020, Officer Tankson was acquitted.[14]

See also


  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. Archived from the original on November 24, 2015. 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 Intelligence Unit". Archived from the original on January 29, 2016. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  8. ^ "Amtrak Police K9 Unit". Archived from the original on February 4, 2016. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  9. ^ Putz, Nastassia (September 2023). "BEHIND THE BADGE". Trains. No. 9 Vol 83. Kalmbach Media. pp. 14–19.
  10. ^ "Amtrak Police NCC". Archived from the original on May 5, 2019. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  11. ^ Mclaughlin, Timothy (February 17, 2017). Brown, Tom (ed.). "Amtrak police officer charged with murder in Chicago shooting". Reuters. Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Union raises $4,000 for Amtrak officer charged with murder, The Washington Times, March 8, 2017, retrieved on: February 20, 2018.
  14. ^ "Judge Acquits Amtrak Officer in Fatal Chicago Shooting". NBC Chicago. February 28, 2020. Retrieved June 7, 2021.