WHAT IS A PATROL SPECIAL OFFICER?
Patrol Special Officers and their Assistants are NON-SWORN private patrol persons and are NOT members of the San Francisco Police Department. The Police Commission appoints Patrol Special Officers and has oversight responsibility over the entire Patrol Special Program. Patrol Special Officers were created under the City Charter and are defined as private patrol persons who contract to perform security duties of a private nature for private persons and businesses within a geographical boundary set forth by the Police Commission.
WHAT ARE THE DUTIES OF A PATROL SPECIAL OFFICER?
Private businesses hire Patrol Special Officers to provide security services. They are private patrol officers who enter into a personal services contract with clients for security services. Typical responsibilities of a Patrol Special Officer’s include: unlocking or securing doors to a business, making checks of residences or businesses, conduct perimeter checks at burglar alarms, providing a physical presence at businesses and providing security consultations.
WHAT AREAS OF SAN FRANCISCO DO THESE OFFICERS PATROL?
Patrol Special Officer’s “Beats” are divided throughout San Francisco. A Patrol Special “Beat” owner can purchase the rights of a specific area to patrol. The purchasing process is regulated by the Police Commission and Police Department. All parts of San Francisco have Patrol Special “Beats”.
IS A PATROL SPECIAL THE SAME AS A SAN FRANCISCO POLICE OFFICER?
NO. Patrol Special Officers have no peace officer authority. They are not regulated by 830.1 or 830.2 of the California Penal Code. They do not provide any police services, nor are they dispatched to any call for service by Department of Emergency Management (the City's 911 Center). Patrol Special Officers are not allowed to perform any type of general law enforcement duties. They may only act as private citizens when assisting San Francisco Police Officers.
IS A PATROL SPECIAL OFFICER EMPLOYED BY THE CITY OF SAN FRANCISCO?
NO. Patrol Special Officers are private contractors and were not hired by the City and County of San Francisco. No public taxpayer funds were used to pay their salaries. They are paid by private businesses or persons who hire them for contractual security services.
WHY DOES A PATROL SPECIAL'S UNIFORM LOOK SIMILAR TO A REAL POLICE OFFICER?
A Patrol Special Officer's uniform looks similar but is NOT the same as a San Francisco Police Officer's uniform. The Patrol Special Officers are required to wear light blue soutache epaulettes on their outermost garment (navy blue shirt/jacket). Their navy blue trousers must have light blue soutache stripes along the outside seams. Public funds were not used to purchase the Patrol Special Officer’s uniforms. Patrol Special Officers are required to wear on their outermost garment a silver-toned 6-point star with the words “San Francisco Patrol Special Police” stamped on the facing. No other style or shaped badge is authorized. San Francisco Police Officers are issued a 7-point star as their official badge. The Patrol Special Officers rocker arm patch is slightly different from a San Francisco Police Officer. The patch states “Patrol Special” on the top band and the trim is in silver thread. The patch is distinguishable from those worn by SFPD Officers.
IS A PATROL SPECIAL OFFICER AUTHORIZED TO CARRY A FIREARM?
Yes. All Patrol Special Officers are authorized to carry a firearm while in uniform and while on duty, consistent with state law. The Police Commission has approved the Patrol Special Officers to carry a firearm if they comply with SFPD Rules & Procedures regarding bi-annual range re-qualifications. All firearms must be visible and in an approved holster.
WHAT TRAINING DOES A PATROL SPECIAL HAVE?
Patrol Special Officers were NOT required to attend a formal police academy unlike all San Francisco Police Officers. In most cases, a Patrol Special Officer was only required to attend an entry-level 832 P.C. class along with some additional training. The San Francisco Police Department does not offer 832 P.C. classes nor does the Department offer any entry-level training for Patrol Special Officers. The police department requires all Patrol Special Officers to attend at least 24 hours of refresher courses on an annual basis. The courses are taught at the San Francisco Police Academy.
HOW DOES AN ASSISTANT PATROL SPECIAL RECEIVE APPROVAL FROM THE CHIEF OF POLICE?
A new applicant must receive a letter of recommendation from a current Patrol Special Officer “Beat” owner. The “Beat” owner sponsors the applicant and submits his/her name to the San Francisco Police Department's Patrol Special Officer Liaison. The Patrol Special Officer Liaison will conduct a preliminary screening and ensure all required documents have been submitted. Once all documents have been reviewed and inspected, the applicant is required to undergo a limited background check and “Live scan” by the San Francisco Police Department. The applicant’s file is then reviewed by the Chief of Police who approves or denies the application. All approvals to the position of Assistant Patrol Special Officer are at the discretion of the Chief of Police. The final approval is made by the Police Commission.
WHAT TYPE OF VEHICLE IS A PATROL SPECIAL AUTHORIZED TO DRIVE WHILE ON-DUTY?
A Patrol Special Officer is allowed to drive any type of vehicle as long as it is registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. All vehicles are subject to inspection by the Police Department. A Patrol Special Officer is NOT allowed to possess any type of emergency signaling equipment, including a forward facing red light, flashing red/blue warning lights, siren of any type, or vehicles painted to match a Police Department vehicle. A Patrol Special Officer can possess a yellow warning light however; it CANNOT be utilized while the vehicle is in motion. Patrol Special Officers are NOT exempt from California Vehicle Code, laws or City traffic ordinances, including double-parking on a public street.
WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE A COMPLAINT AGAINST A PATROL SPECIAL OFFICER?
Complaints should be made at the District station where the incident occurred. The citizen should speak to the Watch Commander and advise him/her that he/she has a complaint against a Patrol Special Officer. The citizen should provide the name and star number of the Patrol Special Officer. The Watch Commander will take the necessary information and complete a memorandum (or police report if appropriate) describing the contact with the Patrol Special Officer. The memorandum will be forwarded to the District Station Captain. The Watch Commander or Captain can take immediate action regarding the complaint or submit their preliminary investigation through the chain of command. Once the Patrol Special Officer Liaison receives the complaint, he/she will conduct an Administrative Investigation and will re-interview the parties involved. The Administrative Investigation will be forwarded through the chain of Command for review. If a complaint is sustained against a Patrol Special Officer, the Chief of Police will review the investigation and determine whether or not to file charges with the Police Commission. If the complainant is sustained against an Assistant Patrol Special, the Chief of Police will determine appropriate action.
IF YOU HAVE ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS, WHOM DO I SPEAK TO?
If none of the above responses answered your question, you may contact the San Francisco Police Department’s Patrol Special Liaison:
Officer Carla Brown
1245 3rd St, 6th Floor East
San Francisco, CA 94158
office 415-575-5895, fax 415-837-7020
Last updated: 01/15/2013