A BRIEF HISTORY OF COMPANY POLICE
The history of company police in North Carolina spans almost one hundred and twenty five years. As special law enforcement problems arose which could not adequately be handled by existing officers, new law enforcement agencies were created to handle these problems. The officers of these agencies were called “special policemen” and were authorized for railroads in 1871 , for electric or water power companies and construction companies in 1907 and for manufacturing companies in 1 923. See, N.C. Code An n. §§ 3484-3488 (Michie, 1935). In many small towns and communities, the special policemen were often the only police officers available to assist the county sheriff and his deputies. The power to appoint these special police officers rested with the Governor until 1971 , when the special and company police were transferred to the Department of Justice by the State Government Reorganization Act. See, N.C.G.S.§ 143A-54.
Company police agencies and officers can be found throughout North Carolina. At present, there are 51 company police agencies serving our state. Company police agencies range in size from those employing as few as one officer to those with as many as sixty officers.
Company police officers patrol and enforce the criminal laws of our state on private and public school property, county and state hospitals, shopping centers, apartment complexes, office buildings, golf courses, recreational lakes and train stations as well as other areas.
Company police agencies are a vital part of the criminal justice system’s efforts in this state. Company police agencies supplement our state, municipal and county police agencies thereby relieving them of some of the calls-for-service that burden all law enforcement agencies.
Due to the specialized nature of company police agencies, it is important that state and local agencies and officers, as well as the general public, fully understand the role of a company police agency and the officers they have commissioned.
To be commissioned as a company police officer, an applicant must meet the minimum standards required for employment and certification as a law enforcement officer in North Carolina, including completion of the Basic Law Enforcement Training course. Additionally, an applicant must successfully complete an examination on the law and administrative rules governing company police with a minimum score of 80%. (If approved, an applicant will also receive law enforcement certification from the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission.) Once the applicant has been officially sworn in by attesting to an oath of office, they will receive a commission from the Attorney General. This commission will give the company police officer the same subject matter jurisdiction as other sworn law enforcement officers to make arrests for both felonies and misdemeanors, as well as to charge for infractions. However, the authority of company police officers is subject to strict territorial jurisdiction limitations.