Transit Police vs Regular Police; Here's the Differences

Transit Police vs Regular Police; Here's the Differences

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Brian Humenuk | Author | COPJOT


By Brian Humenuk, MS|CJA, COPJOT  

Published on May 14, 2024

⏱️ 4 minute read

The roles of transit police and regular police are distinct yet complementary, each critical to maintaining public safety in their respective jurisdictions or areas.

The distinction between transit police and regular police can be complex yet significant.

Transit police focus on the unique public transportation environment, ensuring the safety of millions of daily commuters.

Their specialized training and dedicated presence within transit systems allow them to address specific challenges and threats effectively.

Both play vital roles in maintaining public safety, but their jurisdictions, responsibilities, and training can differ.

Believe it or not, Transit Police can be a government agency or privately operated and there are agencies and officers all around the country, especially in major metropolitan areas.

Have you recently seen a Transit Cop working and wondered who does he or she work for and what do they do?

If so you are not alone because I can remember the first time I saw a Transit Police Officer in Boston, Massachusetts. Two of them were dressed just like police officer and they were riding the subway together walking from train car to train car. 

I remember saying to myself, "That job has me written all over it!"

So, in this article I am going to deep dive into the various aspects of transit police and regular police, providing a comprehensive understanding of their roles and functions.

If you are new to COPJOT and me as an author please check out my other articles here at the blog index.


Be sure to read my next article "Detective vs Police Officer [The Key Differences Explained]"

detective vs police officer; the key differences explained

What is the Transit Police?

A transit police department or agency is a specialized law enforcement body dedicated to ensuring the safety and security of public transportation systems, including buses, trains, subways, and transit stations.

Their primary goal is to ensure the safety of passengers, employees, and infrastructure within the transit system.

Transit police operate under the jurisdiction of the transit authority they serve, which may be a city, county, or regional transit agency.

Are you interested in becoming a Transit Police Officer, Deputy Sheriff or State Trooper?

If so you should definitely read my article >> 7 Top Reasons to Become a Police Officer [Ultimate Guide] <<

What is a Transit Police Officer?

what is a transit police officer?

A transit police officer is specifically assigned to protect and serve within public transportation systems. They perform a range of duties, including:

Transit police are specialized law enforcement officers who focus on the safety and security of public transportation systems.

Their day-to-day job functions are the following.

  • Maintaining Order: Ensuring that transit operations run smoothly and that passengers follow rules and regulations.
  • Crime Deterrence: Providing a visible security presence to deter criminal activities.
  • Customer Assistance: Helping passengers with directions, information, and support during their travels.
  • Emergency Management: Responding to emergencies, such as medical incidents, accidents, and security threats, within the transit system.
  • Law Enforcement: Enforcing laws and regulations specific to the transit environment, including those related to fare evasion, disorderly conduct, and vandalism. 

Transit Police vs. Regular Police

transit police vs regular police

In recent years as our country has seen an uptick in demonstrations against both law enforcement and the government as a whole, many different police agencies have needed to collaborate in order to maintain order in and around mass transit systems.

In just that scenario alone we can see how law enforcement officers need to work together and in many cases their patches and badges on their uniform shirts are just for identification purposes and not the beginning or ending of police powers.

Other scenarios where transit police and regular police need to work together are city parades, large concerts and sporting events, the RNC and DNC, etc.

While both transit police and regular police share the overarching mission of maintaining public safety and enforcing laws, there are key differences between the two:


Transit police have authority primarily within transit systems and facilities. Their jurisdiction includes trains, buses, stations, and transit-owned properties.

Regular police, on the other hand, have broader authority that extends to all public and private areas within their municipality or jurisdiction.


Transit police are specialized in handling issues specific to public transportation, such as fare evasion, vandalism, and crimes that occur within transit systems.

Regular police deal with a wider range of criminal activities, from traffic violations to serious felonies.


Both transit and regular police undergo rigorous training, but transit police receive additional training focused on the transit environment.

This includes handling emergencies in confined spaces like subway tunnels, managing large crowds during peak travel times, and understanding the specific legal regulations governing public transportation.


Transit police often work closely with regular police, especially when incidents require broader law enforcement intervention.

For instance, in the case of a major criminal investigation or terrorist threat within the transit system, transit police may coordinate with city or state police to ensure a comprehensive response.

Are Transit Police Real Police?

Yes, transit police are real police officers with full law enforcement authority within their designated jurisdiction.

They are sworn officers who have completed police academy training and are empowered to enforce laws, make arrests, and carry firearms.

In many regions, transit police officers have the same legal powers as regular police officers, including the authority to detain and arrest individuals, conduct investigations, and issue citations.

What Do Transit Police Do?

The responsibilities of transit police are diverse and tailored to the unique needs of public transportation systems. Here are some of the key duties they perform:


Transit police patrol transit facilities, including stations, platforms, bus stops, and transit vehicles. They provide a visible security presence to deter crime and assist passengers.

Crime Prevention

They work to prevent crimes such as theft, vandalism, assault, and fare evasion within the transit system.

This includes monitoring surveillance systems and conducting undercover operations when necessary.

Emergency Response

Transit police are trained to respond to a variety of emergencies, including medical incidents, accidents, and security threats.

They coordinate with other emergency services to manage situations efficiently.

Community Engagement

Building relationships with passengers and transit employees is a crucial aspect of their role.

Transit police engage with the community to promote safety awareness and gather intelligence on potential security concerns.

Special Operations

In some cases, transit police are involved in specialized operations, such as anti-terrorism efforts, handling hazardous materials incidents, and managing large-scale events that impact transit services.


They conduct investigations into crimes that occur within the transit system, working to apprehend suspects and bring them to justice.

This can include collaborating with other law enforcement agencies for complex cases.

About the Author

Brian Humenuk isn't just an entrepreneur in eCommerce, he is also an informed leader whose experience provides followers and visitors with a look into current and past police issues making headlines in the United States.

Brian has earned three degrees in Criminal Justice with the last, a Masters of Science in Criminal Justice Administration.

Brian extends his training, education, and experience to the officers just now getting into the field so that they may become more informed police officers and stay clear of police misconduct and corruption. 

You can find out more about Brian and the COPJOT story on the ABOUT US page.

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COPJOT is supported by its audience. If you make a purchase through links on this site I may earn a small affiliate commission. Enough to buy myself a small coffee and I want to thank you in advance. 

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