How do you get a police escort?

Answers to your questions about the news.
May 2 2006 6:02 PM

Where's My Police Escort?

How to rent a cop.

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A police escort rushed Red Sox catcher Doug Mirabelli from Logan Airport to Fenway Park on Monday. Mirabelli, who had been traded to Boston shortly before Monday night's game, took the field less than 25 minutes later. Last week, a police detail in Edmonton, Alberta, met Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard at the airport and rushed him to the game. How do you get a police escort?

Call up the state troopers and ask for one. Professional sports teams hire uniformed police officers to make sure they can get players to and from airports or hotels without a problem. Construction companies make a habit of paying "extra-duty" officers to escort large trucks or control traffic around work sites. Even regular Joes like you and the Explainer can request a police detail if they have a good enough reason. (Police departments often grant escorts for private funeral processions, for example.)

Daniel Engber Daniel Engber

Daniel Engber is a columnist for Slate

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Before you send in your application form, keep in mind that extra-duty cops don't come cheap. If the extra-duty office approves your request, you'll probably have to pay $30 or $40 an hour for each officer, plus an added fee for the use of police cruisers. (There's often a four-hour minimum, and last-minute or holiday orders garner a premium rate.) The department assigns the well-paid bonus hours to its officers on a rotating schedule after taking out a few dollars per hour for administration.

Departments that lack a system for assigning extra-duty work might be willing to improvise. When USC and Notre Dame requested police escorts for games at Brigham Young, the local Utah County Sheriff's Office was happy to oblige. "We've never done it before," one official told the Associated Press. "But, hey, if they want to pay us to do this, we'll take the money."

Police officers keep all their law-enforcement powers while on extra duty, but they're only allowed to exercise them in a way that's consistent with the mission of promoting public safety. That means you may be on shaky ground if you ask your rent-a-cop to put on the siren and high-tail it to the ballpark. (Some city governments have tried to ban the use of marked cruisers with sirens for extra-duty work.)

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Explainer thanks reader Ben Silva for asking the question.

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