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Railroad Police

Union Pacific Railroad Police stop a vehicle Aug. 20 on South Pierce Avenue in Mason City.

There is a white, two-door Ram truck with emergency vehicle lighting and the word "Police" on the side. It has been seen lurking around the railroad tracks pulling over wrong-doers.

Union Pacific Railroad confirmed the truck is used by UP Special Agents or simply railroad police.

The agents are tasked with investigating crimes that include trespassing, theft of railroad property, threats of terrorism and derailments.

 “When the railroads were built in the mid-1800s, the Pinkerton Agency was created to guard the payroll,” Mark Davis of Union Pacific Railroad said. “Eventually, they evolved into law enforcement.”

They do have the power to arrest and issue citations.

“Typically, they elicit the help of local law enforcement on issues regarding the railroad” Davis said.

Mason City Police Department officials acknowledged as much, saying the agents do a lot of work internally and work with the local police when the need arises. Agents have primary jurisdiction over crimes committed against the railroad.

“Our police are commissioned officers, and they typically come from a police background,” Davis said.

According to Union Pacific’s job description, agents must have graduated from an accredited police academy and must have three years’ experience in a public law enforcement agency or military police.

The white truck is not a standard for the department. The type of vehicle issued depends on the terrain.

“It varies with the officers,” Davis said. “We do have K9 units, so vehicles vary to accommodate them from SUVs to standard vehicles.”

In 2014, the Union Pacific Police Department received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc.


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