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Thread: Railroad Police

  1. #1
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    Bullet Railroad Police

    When I was a lad growing up in Kansas, every year a (ATSF) railroad police officer came to our school and threatened us using stories designed to make one soil his britches about people messing around the tracks and losing a leg or something.

    So, I started wondering; What did the (Frisco) railroad police do?

    I'm sure they investigated thefts of property and tried to prevent it. But, did they venture off the property and were they commissioned officers? Did they have to attend the police academy or were they mostly officers retired from some other agency? Or, was it just an administrative job where one was just a liaison to other agencies?

    How did the railroad operate the police force and how many officers did it have? Was there a chief and other ranks that would resemble a municipal police department, etc.?

    I've never heard anything about the Frisco's railroad police and I wonder what information is available.

    Charlie

  2. #2

    Default Re: Railroad Police

    They defiantly had RR Police. Most of what I seen, was asset protection.
    They were almost always first at derailments to protect merchandise. Following high
    profile trains, especially ones with beer cars or other adult drinks.
    We had to copy them, where we tied up machinery on the weekend.
    I know they did some schools. At one time, they worked around the clock,
    mainly in crew change areas.
    William Jackson

  3. #3

    Default Re: Railroad Police

    I occasionally visit the Officer Down Memorial Page (odmp.org) and have found a memorial for Special Agent Ray Cunningham, St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad Police, killed by gunfire while attempting to arrest transients at Beaumont Jct. KS, May 1915. The Frisco coonskin patch is displayed on his page. As far as I know, he is the only SL-SF agent listed on the site, although there are many, many railroad special agents on there who were killed in the line of duty, although some were by accident. As far as I'm concerned, there are too many.

    Agent Cunningham, may you rest in peace, my brother in blue.

    Pat Moreland,
    Union Mo.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Railroad Police

    The Frisco Special Agents were under the leadership of the Director Special Services, who was quartered in Springfield. His second in command was a Lieutenant Special Services. Each Division was led by a Division Special Agent and an Assistant Division Special Agent. Each major terminal was led by a Senior Special Agent and an Assistant Senior Special Agent, who were in charge of 4-6 Special Agents. Smaller yards, such as Chaffee or Sherman would have a single Special Agent.


    These brief articles are from the May 1972 Frisco All Aboard Employee Magazine
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    Dad always called the Special Agents "¤¤¤¤¤foots"
    Last edited by Karl; 06-11-2012 at 11:15 PM.


    lauditor temporis acti

  5. #5

    Default Re: Railroad Police

    In Agent Cunningham's day, an officer would likely have been given a badge, a club, and a pistol, then placed in the company of a seasoned (or grizzled if you like) veteran to learn the ropes for a couple of days. That probably started changing in the 1950's when basic law enforcement academies started springing up. Large municipalities such as St. Louis, Kansas City, etc. would have had training academies prior to this, same with state police forces.

    Railroad police departments now look for officers who are commissioned to work in the state where they would be assigned. For example, if BNSF was needing an officer for Lindenwood Yard, the candidate would be required to carry a Missouri P.O.S.T. certification, which would allow them to work anywhere in the state. The candidate would receive this certification through a basic law enforcement academy approved by the state, such as the Missouri Sheriff's Training Academy. I'm not sure if BNSF (or any of the other RR police departments) would hire anyone without experience, then pay for them to attend the academy, although I highly doubt it. If a current BNSF officer working in Texas and carrying a peace officer's commission in that state for some reason wanted to transfer to Missouri, he or she would first have to obtain a certification in Missouri. He or she may be able to "test out", or take the state exam without having to attend the academy.

    A commissioned railroad police officer, at least in Missouri, would have jurisdiction only over the property owned by his or her employer. However, the railroad police officer would be allowed to carry his or her badge and firearm anywhere in the state and would have the power to take action or render assistance in emergencies off of the property as well.

    The authority of a railroad police officer is the same as any other police officer, having the same duties of patrol and investigation, as well as arrest powers. The jurisdiction is simply limited to the railroad's real property.

    Pat Moreland,
    Union Mo.
    Last edited by wpmoreland719; 06-12-2012 at 12:00 AM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Railroad Police

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ID:	19165My father Lt. L.C."Salty" Hagar wrote this article about1970. He was the Lieutenant second in command at the general office. He workedfor the Frisco from 1949 till 1977. I never heard the name "¤¤¤¤¤foots". In the SGF shops where I worked we called them P.I.'s.

    Last edited by diesel shop; 06-12-2012 at 12:27 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Railroad Police

    My mom can remember both Missouri Pacific and Frisco RR police talking at her middle school (Van Buren) back in the 70's. So yes they did get out and talk to the kids. I wonder if they gave away the freebies like Union Pacific dose today? When the UP visited my school kids who answered correct questions were given a small UP pencil set and a metal UP sheild keychain. I still have both of those.
    Ship it on the Frisco!!!


    Murphy Jenkins

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Railroad Police

    One of the local model railroaders, Jim McCroskie, was a Railroad Police Officer for the CB&Q. What has been revealed thus far has squared with the duties he has described over the course of numerous conversations. The stories he tells can be quite entertaining as well as scary. Security for derailments was a part of the job that could be easy or difficult. He tells of one derailment in the middle of nowhere Iowa during near-blizzard conditions and plowing on foot through nearly 1/2 mile of knee deep snow to get to the site to secure it for the night. Not a fun time.
    Keith Robinson
    KC, MO North
    Southeast...........Southwest
    Ship It on the Frisco!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Railroad Police

    Was I bidding against anyone from here on this?

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  10. #10

    Default Re: Railroad Police

    My wife...


    lauditor temporis acti

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Railroad Police

    Ahh. Sorry about that. I wish one for all of us. I put $20 per week into a mad money account and it's been a long time since I bought anything. I feel bad when I beat people on eBay auctions and I feel bad when I lose too.

    Keep watching. Maybe another one will come up. It was hard to part with the money but sometimes you just have to do it.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Railroad Police

    I wouldn't worry about. I am surprised that every now and then my wife will bid on Frisco items.


    lauditor temporis acti

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Railroad Police

    Quote Originally Posted by Karl View Post
    I wouldn't worry about. I am surprised that every now and then my wife will bid on Frisco items.
    I wish I could get my wife to do that. Hmm, no... no chance.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Railroad Police

    One diecast manufactuer is releasing vintage automoblies for fallen flag railroad police cars in 1:43 with heralds of same on the doors. Did Frisco special agents have vehicles with RR markings or die they use their own private automobiles?

    The Santa Fe agents used their own private automobiles without any RR markings when I switched the East Dallas Yard from 1968-76. An ole boy off the L&A (KCS) referred to special agents as Hogjaws. I never heard that term up til then. Guess there were all kinds of names, some not too decent or clean either probably.

    Joe Toth
    Last edited by Joseph Toth; 06-24-2012 at 08:59 AM.
    Joseph Toth
    The Trinity River Bottoms Boomer

    Email: railroadjoe@hotmail.de

  15. #15

    Default Re: Railroad Police

    Joe, "Gum Shoes" "Cinder Dick's" was also popular terms. "Hogjaws" is a new one for me. I don't remember a marked vehicle, they did have a company Jeep Cherokee that they used. That would have been in the 70's and 80's. FEC furnishes a marked, real fancy vehicle, there about the only ones that ihave seen.
    William Jackson

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Railroad Police

    The Frisco "Special Agents" used to wave and visit and laugh it up with railfans at Springfield. They could tell the difference between railfans and malicious trespassers. After BN and BNSF, the "rialroad police" had "squad cars" with light bars and wouldn't let you on the parking lots. Funny how they could chase off railfans but can't catch grafitti artists...

    Tom G.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Railroad Police

    Aren't some railroads beginning to see the value of railfans who keep a look out for tresspassors? In any society you will always have the undesireables but if the railroads started a program perhaps with historical socities and issued ID cards to registered members and even if it sounds somewhat childish, call it "Jr. RR Police", so railfans could report violations to the RR police or local authorities and help the railroad maintain "law & order" along the right of way it appears like they would certainly benefit from such a program instead of tagging all railfans as The Enemy.

    Joe Toth
    Joseph Toth
    The Trinity River Bottoms Boomer

    Email: railroadjoe@hotmail.de

  18. #18

    Default Re: Railroad Police

    Joe, the short answer is No!
    Problem is the courts, any one who got hurt or property damaged would then become a fail fan. Since the railroad let's rail fans on the property then they are fully liable. I went to several depositions, it was almost always the first question. "does the railroad allow trespassers " " do they remove ALL trespassers from their property" it just isn't worth it. I remember one case while I was Roadmaster in Denver where a guy was riding a dirt bike, hit a hole it the right of way.
    Believe it, the award 10 Million with a M. This one you might be able to pull up: Longmont, Colorado crossing accident 26 Million. I was not involved with that one, but I know the award.
    William Jackson

  19. #19

    Default Re: Railroad Police

    Bill,

    I was thinking in terms of railfans observing RR property while not trespassing on the property. Responsible railfans take their photos off of the property but I can understand in this day and age that some would consider the ID as a pass to do so.

    In the beginning of what we consider railfanning today they wore suits and ties and hats and fan trips were organized and all of the fans respected the railroad property and right of way. A pity that the system today permits law suits and the trespassers are awarded big bucks for breaking the law. One must still wonder about all of the spray can "artists" who violate these laws and responsible railfans get razzed for taking photos while on public property.

    What about hitching rides on trains? With the lack of cabooses and no employees to watch for "hobos" today, has this become a problem as well? Recently here in Germany two teens were caught riding a freight because they didn't want to spend any money for a ticket to ride the regional passenger train home. No cabooses here either as most railfans know but they were spotted by someone at a station when the train went through and they notified the police on their cell phone, They were riding on a tank car platform. Every year there are reported deaths on railraod property here when teens climb on top of tank cars and covered hoppers and come in contact with the 15,000 volt catenary. Ouch!

    Joe Toth
    Joseph Toth
    The Trinity River Bottoms Boomer

    Email: railroadjoe@hotmail.de

  20. #20

    Default Re: Railroad Police

    I got to meet and know quite a few RR Police while involved with 1522. Our local guy, Paul Cross, was the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet and had some good stories of how stupid people can be. John Hitzeman, who owns AMB, used to be a Special Agent here in St. Louis. His boss, Harold Johnson was a legend on the Frisco. I wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of him, but he was a very good friend that I still miss. Sometimes I think he had more pull around Lindenwood than the guys from the head offices. He was a true character!
    In today's world the best bet is to stay the hell off RR property. Period. I don't envy these guys jobs any more than I envy St. Louis city police and theirs. It's hard, dangerous and the dirtbags out there have ruined it forever for "fans". The people who want to sue over ¤¤¤¤ed near everything are another reason that things are as tight as they are. Add in Homeland Security's requirements too.
    One thing I didn't realize. One of our trips up to Galesburg for RR days we did a short round trip to a place called Yates City. Several of us were in the offical SLSTA chase vehicle when we got pulled over by a BNSF Special Agent for speeding. He could have actually written a ticket if he had wanted. Just chewed us out and let us go.
    A lot of folks might think they're "Gestapo", but they are doing what they are paid to do.
    One more short story. One Sunday many years ago, Joe Collias and I went over to the Illinois side looking to take some photos. I pulled down into the Cotton Belt engine terminal/yard at Valley Jct to turn around and halfway through turning around had a 38 stuck in the window by a RR cop. after we chatted for a couple of minutes he realized we weren't up to something. He said dirtbags had been coming in, jacking up cars and stealing the journal brass. Joe and I both had street clothes and white shirts on and he said he could be fairly sure we weren't there to steal anything. Nonetheless he asked us to leave and followed us to the city street.
    In today's world nothing is as laid back as it used to be and you might as well accept it because it's not going to change.
    BTW, the idea of fans behaving "back in the day" isn't true. They may have dressed better, but they acted like asses a lot of times by climbing up on signal masts, on top of freight cars and other totally stupid stuff. They don't do that any more.
    Don Wirth
    Steam crazed since 1940.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Railroad Police

    Joe, if your not on RR property then they really don't have nothing to say. You can basically do that all you want. No offense, but most rail fans don't know what their looking at. The Roadmaster gets the vast majority of that kind of calls. It would be hard for you to understand, getting a call at 2 AM from some fool that heard a funny noise. I would venture 1 in 1000, of that kind of call is anything remotely serious. I know your intent is good, leave it to trained professionals. Believe me railroad jobs are a lot more demanding than you think. KCS was about the worst, most weeks, I averaged 3 night calls and 1 weekend call every week. I worked two years, one summer for KCS.
    William Jackson
    No offense intended, not all rail fans are unknowledgable about railroads

  22. #22

    Default Re: Railroad Police

    Bill,

    You and all the other special agents deserve a pat on the back for doing your job professionally! Regretfully there are a lot of police acadaemy rejects who get a badge and a gun and proceed to play Quick Draw McGraw. While in Irving Mall in Irving,TX back in the late 90s my wife and I observed a security guard in his uniform walking just like QDMcD and my wife commented she wouldn't want to get in that guys way anywhere. He was probably the nicest man one would want to meet but I imigine he had had a lot of encounters with our "well bahaved" youth so mabie wanted all to know not to mess around in his mall. I can understand his thinking.

    Just yesterday some unknown trespassor placed a piece of metal in a switch in the Wuerzburg passenger station yard tracks and derailed a switch engine. The engineer wasn't injured other than the shock treatment but even here in Germany this crap is starting to increase. Had one of the high speed trains (OK, Wuerzburg isn't out on the high speed line that runs to Hamburg) or any passenger train for that matter had derailed it would have caused some minor injuries perhaps not to mention the damage to the equipment.

    I guess it boils down to the responsible railfans who know how to conduct themselves when around any railroad and if they do see anything that might be a problem to report same but not overkill the situation either. I recall that some employee who works for Kalmbach (Trains, Model Railroader) was responsible for having the Boy Scouts Railroading Badge reinstored. Is this true and I wonder if it has taught the boys how a railroad operates and how to conduct themselves around railroad property as well as everywhere else too for that matter?

    Joe Toth
    Joseph Toth
    The Trinity River Bottoms Boomer

    Email: railroadjoe@hotmail.de

  23. #23

    Default Re: Railroad Police

    Joe, I was not a Special Agent. I worked in the Track as a Roadmaster and in the Operating as a Trainmaster. Most of the calls for problems go to the officer who is the closest to the problem. Generally, the local Police and the railroad Special Agent is called also. During my short time, as Roadmaster for CSX in Miami, they required the Special Agent to go with you if you went out at night. I was always glad to see them, they have training in many areas that most people don't know about. With FEC we used to have a guy in Melbourne, that called in problems, then when you got there, he just wanted to talk with someone on the Railroad. Most rail fans are very nice folks, but some are not. Kinda like Keith said, a few ruin it for all.
    William Jackson

  24. #24

    Default Re: Railroad Police

    Sorry Bill,

    I still have the cap off of the old tube of airplane glue...should have read your comments properly. Guess I had my head in the caboose stove?

    It is hard to believe you need police escourts today when working on the railroad but there are locations that even the police won't visit in broad daylight.

    When I switched for the Santa Fe in Dallas in the late 60s/mid-70s we interchanged with the T&P in East Dallas and the area wasn't the safest part of the city then either. We didn't ever require the services of the special agent but at night we kept a sharp eye out for anything that didn't meet our fancy. The situation improved when we started to deliver the cars direct to the T&P yard just up the track from the Age of Steam museum. We carried a caboose since we had to shove across several street crossings and use the air whistle on the caboose platform as well as placing a lighted fusee in the coupler to warn motorists and pedestrians alike.

    I always saluted the Frisco steam locos on display at the museum when we rode by! My years employed with the Cotton Belt and Santa Fe in both Dallas and Ft. Worth were really great but I had been raised north of Dallas in a wide place in the road called Farmers Branch. The Frisco ran behind my grandparent's chicken farm through the woods and off to the east across old US 77 (now I-35E) was the Katy's branch to Denton. I sure miss the black and yellow cab units on the freights. Right after Christmas 1961 I witnessed the passing of three brand new GE U25Bs which heralded in the second generation of Mr. D's Machine. They just can't replace the Fs and FAs in black and yellow but now most of us wish the Frisco was still with us regardless of the color scheme worn by the diesels.

    There are railfans who miss Penn Central too I am told. Wow!

    Joe Toth
    Joseph Toth
    The Trinity River Bottoms Boomer

    Email: railroadjoe@hotmail.de

  25. #25

    Default Re: Railroad Police

    Joe, it's ok. Rail fans, is a big tent. Some go to great lengths and detail to learn railroading. Some just think they know. Most anything, has value, in that most railroads do not operate the same. Even though they may use the same rules, it may have a different interpretation. Time periods, language and geographic areas keep the hobby a continuous learning process. Being from a railroad family and working 40 years, I am still amazed at the amount of things that I did not know.
    William Jackson

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