Section 2.11.1.
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Fundamental Planning Issues for a Lunar Police Operation

Fundamental Planning Issues

for a

Lunar Police Operation

Robert Lancaster

The first essay of this series, "The Need for Police in a Lunar Community" looked at the "why". Now, we'll look at the "when", the "who", and some of the "how". Assumption #1: The decision is made that a Law Enforcement presence is or will be needed. Assumption #2: This decision has been made before the outpost is at a point where the need is immediate, because several of these issues need to be worked out well in advance to allow for research, development, planning, and in some cases legislation.

The issues to be considered are:

1. At what point in the outpost's development should a police entity be put in place?

2. How large should that police entity be?

3. What level of legal authority should they have and

3a. What is the source of that authority?

4. What levels of force should they be capable of employing?

In these issues, some or all of the following factors can be considered, to varying degrees:

A. Population size, composition, and activities

B. Insurers'/Stockholders' mandates

C. Wants of the on-site community

D. And, as unlikely as it seems now, any potential external threats from individuals, groups, or other nations

E. Other specialized factors from an analogous example in modern University Law Enforcement1

1. When to put a Police entity in place

"Management" can decide when the population reaches a point where it is beyond the span of control of a single mission commander or base manager, but the matter is too complex to set simple threshold values on population size; people who share similar backgrounds, culture, and values are likely to need police less than a more diverse group of the same size. Edward Hudgins, in his paper "Martian Law" presented at the Mars Society Founding Convention, describes something similar as the "sense of community"2. Activities undertaken by the population are a planning factor from the standpoint that mining and processing Lunar Thorium into nuclear fuel will likely be more sensitive than other activities.

The mandates of insurers and stockholders will be in the interest of reducing their liability and risk. There will obviously be substantial investments of capital here, and the remote and hostile nature of the environment makes safety and security a prime concern.

While some people would not think so, the wants of the on-site community must be considered in the planning, because modern law enforcement is a joint effort between the serviced community and the policing agency in order to be successful. This is another example of Hudgins' "sense of community".

Potential external threats is a broad term encompassing both the visitor from the neighboring outpost and the possible military or security personnel from other space-faring countries.

RECOMMENDATION FOR PLANNING: "Management", in a development Master Plan, should have criteria established in advance to determine what milestones drive further planning for, and finally emplacement of a police entity. There should also be enough flexibility in the planning to allow rapid response to unforeseen developments or threats. In "The Lunar Base Handbook", four phases of Lunar Base Development are discussed; the Precursor, Pioneering, Consolidation, and Settlement phases3. Using this timeline, one could establish a milestone for police presence towards the end of the Pioneering or beginning of the Consolidation Phase.

For the next three issues, valuable insight can be gained from the evolution of modern University Campus Law Enforcement; in a campus environment, the police are a "Special Entity" agency, apart from the regular city, county, and state agencies. Many of the issues faced in their development can be used as examples for our discussion here.

2. How large should the Police entity be?

This is a complex question as well, because there is no simple ratio of X population to Y police officers. In "Campus Security and Law Enforcement", Powell discusses the following factors to help determine the size of a department4:

-General layout, because a self-contained area is easier to protect.

-Nature/Type of terrain can provide natural buffer zones between different elements of a community. Here, the local environment is an ultimate natural buffer between Colony A and Colony B, which might be near each other but not connected physically.

-The type of security operation. This will be covered in more detail under the question of authority; ordinarily, a low-level guard operation requires fewer people than a department of commissioned officers because outside law enforcement agencies are available. In this discussion, the degree and effectiveness of outside police coverage depends on another settlement having a police agency of sworn officers or a government agency, possibly U.S. Marshals or Coast Guard (as has been a postulated future role for them), being in place.

-Age, type, and architecture of buildings. Here, the point is that newer structures are easier to secure because different aspects of physical security have been or will be incorporated into their design. This can certainly be done with a Lunar settlement.

-Electronic Protection Devices. Sensitive areas being covered by alarms, access control, and CCTV reduces the number of personnel necessary because an officer can be rapidly dispatched to investigate versus being posted there full-time. Telepresence with remotely operated vehicles would also enhance security while reducing staffing needs and minimizing EVA time.

The population's activities will drive the staffing level depending on any critical biological, chemical, nuclear, or other assets requiring protection. Also, the external factors of insurers'/stockholders' mandates and potential threats will possibly also have an impact.

RECOMMENDATION FOR PLANNING: Based on all these factors, we can start to figure our staffing size by focusing on the physical size and layout of the facility. The physical space can be broken down into individual patrol zones whose sizes are such that it will take an officer no longer than a specified period of time to respond to an alarm or emergency call. The general rule of thumb is no more than 5 minutes, but the distance covered in that time will be greatly affected by the nature of the structure (airlocks, hatches) and how fast one can move in a 1/6th G shirtsleeve or pressure-suited environment. The number of patrol zones will give us the number of patrol officers per shift, but we also need to ensure 24-hour coverage. While the shift schedule might be different in a Lunar environment, let's assume for the sake of discussion that we use three 8-hour shifts for 24 hour coverage of X number of patrol zones. Does that mean 3 times X officers? Not quite, because we have to consider days off, vacation, and sick time. We need to start with 5 times X officers5. Supervisory and support staff, including a Chief of Security, is necessary only to the extent of those who must physically be there for their duties. Administrative and non-critical support staff can remain Earth-side.

3. What level of authority should these officers have?

Again, referring to Powell, there are 5 basic approaches to security. Watchman/guard operations, Contracted guard services, Contracts with local police agencies, Proprietary security departments, or Proprietary police agencies6. Powell's factors to weigh for the need for police authority focus largely on the differences between police arrests and citizen's arrests. Without police authority, security personnel have no more arrest authority for crimes committed in their presence than the average citizen and this creates liability for claims of false arrest and imprisonment, battery, assault, etc., as well as jeopardizing otherwise solid court cases7.

The citizen's authority for arrest for crimes not committed in their presence is also much more limited than a police officer's and again opens up liability for false arrest and imprisonment and unlawful use of force. With only citizen's arrest authority, arrested persons can only be detained pending release to an appropriate police agency, and there are no provisions for longer term detention or questioning.

Citizen's arrest authority does not authorize the use of force to the same extent as police authority.

Finally, the complexity of the laws and the consequences of not fully understanding them creates liability which could be easily reduced with the use of well-trained commissioned police officers.

RECOMMENDATION FOR PLANNING: This is one of the most important of the four key issues. Based simply on the remoteness and need to be self-sufficient, a proprietary police agency is strongly recommended. This is easier said than done, as we will see next, because there's one thing needed to grant that level of authority, and that is a body of government.

3a. What is the source of that authority?

The settlement will very likely need police services before it has matured and developed into an independent city-state, with it's own elected officials, therefore some mechanism for establishing the authority of that police agency has to be developed.

Other professionals such as doctors and lawyers must be licensed by some recognized authority before they can do their jobs. In the case of police officers in the state of Texas, there is the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE)8, which licenses people to perform the job of police officer. Since it is assumed that the settlement will also need doctors and lawyers on-site during it's period of pre-independence, those individuals will have to be licensed by authorities back on Earth. The same licensing can be done for the settlement's police officers, but there are some legal issues to be worked out, involving the need for a body of government to carry that officer's commission.

First, let's expand on why police officers need official government authority to do their jobs. Quite simply, it's in order to secure the "consent of the governed" and to provide the necessary oversight to ensure that everything is done legally and people's rights are protected. For example, if an individual were to be detained and evidence discovered without legal authority, an otherwise valid case against the person could be jeopardized. Likewise, an innocent person might be unjustly accused. Official authority, therefore, establishes police as "public servants", protects individual rights and provides some measure of protection against liability for the organization.

The ultimate source of that authority is the people, and we derive the "consent of the governed" as follows:

In the United States, for example, we start with the Declaration of Independence, then the U.S. Constitution, followed by state constitutions, and finally statute and case law. It's helpful to look at each of these before any further discussion of off-planet analogues.

The Declaration of Independence-Here, it states that authority of a government stems from the consent of the governed; "Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

The U.S. Constitution-Authority here is stated in the preamble where "We the people of the United States" "establish justice" and "do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America". The Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, establishes the rules by which the government must operate-it's authority and the limits on that authority.

The State Constitutions-Essentially, these are reiterations of the U.S. Constitution but with variations specific to each state. The source of authority here is again based on the consent of the people.

Statute Law-These are the laws passed by legislatures at the city, county, state and national level.

Case Law-When a court of law makes a decision on a case brought before it, case law is made. It serves as a precedent against which future conduct in similar situations is compared.

Now back to the lunar scenario. An individual employed by the settlement might be licensed as a police officer back on Earth just as the doctor or lawyer, but in the case of the police officer, he or she must be employed and commissioned by some body of government (i.e., elected officials, in order to have the "consent of the governed") to be able to act as a police officer.

In the example of campus law enforcement, this problem has been solved with state-level legislation9. Both state and private institutions can have proprietary police departments with full police authority within their jurisdictions. If we look at the example of Texas in the United States, we see the following in their statutes:

From the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure:

Art. 2.12. Who are peace officers.

The following are peace officers:

(1) sheriffs and their deputies;

(2) constables and deputy constables;

(3) marshals or police officers of an incorporated city, town, or village;

(4) rangers and officers commissioned by the Public Safety Commission and the Director of the Department of Public Safety;

(5) investigators of the district attorneys', criminal district attorneys', and county attorneys' offices;

(6) law enforcement agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission;

(8) officers commissioned under Section 37.081, Education Code, or Subchapter E, Chapter 51, Education Code;

(12) airport security personnel commissioned as peace officers by the governing body of any political subdivision of this state, other than a city described by Subdivision (11), that operates an airport that serves commercial air carriers;

(16) officers commissioned by a board of trustees under Chapter 341, Acts of the 57th Legislature, Regular Session, 1961 (Article 1187f, Vernon's Texas Civil Statutes);

The whole list is rather long, and none of the situations are immediately applicable in this context. However, paragraph (8) allows educational institutions to have police departments and paragraph (16) upon further reading discusses port authorities used to commission peace officers. This shows how acts of legislation can create specialized niches in the law for what are referred to as "Special Entity" police agencies, even those agencies working for private institutions. This level of authority also helps establish the "rule of law" as the officer's top priority in the event of contradictory, unethical, or illegal guidance from their employers. In "The Moon: Resources, Future Development, and colonization", there has been discussion of Lunar and Space Economic Development Authorities, in comparison to the Tennessee Valley Authority; these are possible sources of law enforcement authority10.

RECOMMENDATION FOR PLANNING: Assuming we are granting full police authority to our Lunar police officers, let's consider the following scenario specific to the Moon Society and the Artemis project:


1. Lunar Resources Company is incorporated in the state of Texas and functions as the parent corporation/business entity for the project.

2. The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, as shown, defines numerous specialized categories of Peace Officers.


The creation of a Texas Spaceport Authority, with enabling legislation in the Code of Criminal Procedure to create a new category of Peace Officers with specific jurisdiction over state spaceports, aboard private or state-owned spacecraft (while anywhere off-world) licensed, launched, or recovered in Texas, and at any off-world facility owned or maintained by any business entity incorporated in the state of Texas. Peace Officers working for private companies would also be commissioned under this authority, but their primary jurisdiction would be limited to property owned or maintained by their employer. Training and certification of peace officers will be in compliance with TCLEOSE rules and regulations. Also, the Spaceport Authority would have to maintain some sort of oversight of private-sector law enforcement to ensure the priority of "rule of law". Either way, specialized peace officers in this area will be vital given the highly technical and potentially hazardous endeavor they are charged with protecting.

The governing board of directors for the Spaceport Authority, through their officers, enforces the Texas Statutes and other localized rules and regulations applicable to the highly specialized environment. The off-world, as well as the terrestrial, locations could be freed of the burden of numerous regulations and especially taxations in order to stimulate development and start over with a clean slate. Particularly with the off-world locations that could eventually develop into independence, I refer again to Hudgins11 and the idea of starting over with the basics such as murder, theft, etc. in order to minimize regulation.

To the question of "What about individuals not of the United States", it could be a matter of establishing the following as a condition of employment/residency at Artemis Moonbase: "I understand and agree to abide by the laws, rules, and regulations either assimilated from the statutes of the parent-company state or those locally implemented" Again, we're not talking about a huge book of statutes.

4. What levels of physical force should be available for use?

One of the first tools needed by a police officer is the authority and ability to use some form of force to affect arrests, prevent damage or destruction of property, and protect lives, including his or her own. A wide range of options is needed to cover various scenarios, so the modern use-of-force continuum for law enforcement consists of the following:

Officer Presence: The simple on-scene presence of a uniformed officer is considered a use of force because of the implied potential for the use of physical force.

Verbal Commands: Also considered a use of force because of the implication that failure to follow verbal commands will result in physical force.

Open-Hand Techniques: These are the apprehension and restraint techniques used to put an unarmed but physically combative subject under arrest.

Non-Lethal Techniques and Weapons: Non-Lethal is a misnomer and no longer the accepted terminology because any non-lethal method applied incorrectly can easily be lethal. The more accurate term is Less-than-lethal, or Less-lethal. These methods include impact weapons such as batons and beanbag rounds, chemical agents such as Mace and Pepper spray, and electrical stun guns and Tasers.

Lethal Force: This is the last resort. It can be used if other measures have failed, or more likely, if immediately confronted with a lethal threat and there is no time to employ intermediate measures or those measures would obviously be ineffective. Unfortunately, lethal force is necessary because it is currently the only established, proven way to guarantee the immediate and complete incapacitation required to stop a person from pulling a trigger, detonating an explosive, or anything else which is immediately catastrophic. Imagine the perpetrator in a pressure suit who is about to irreparably damage a power or life support system or cause an explosive decompression; they would likely be invulnerable to less-lethal measures, even some lethal measures given the ballistic protection a spacesuit can provide.

RECOMMENDATION FOR PLANNING: Police Use-of-Force differs greatly from that of the military, because the primary objectives of the police are to keep the peace and bring offenders to justice. The least amount of force necessary to accomplish those objectives is therefore the rule; as stated previously, sometimes lethal force is the only way to prevent a perpetrator from doing damage or causing harm, so the use of lethal force must be kept as an option, even if personnel are not routinely equipped with lethal weapons. Proper arms and ammunition selection can be used to minimize any danger to the enclosed environment or others.


The four initial planning issues discussed are the most critical requiring workable answers well in advance because of their potential to cause problems if not adequately addressed in time. There will be enough unanticipated issues arising in this process; the more we deal with the ones we know about now, the better.

It also serves us well to learn the sometimes bloody lessons of previous frontier expansions where law enforcement was an afterthought.


1. John W. Powell, Campus Security and Law Enforcement (Boston: Butterworth Publishers Inc., 1981)

2. Edward L. Hudgins, Martian Law (Proceedings of the Founding Convention of the Mars Society, 1998) 849

3. Peter Eckart, The Lunar Base Handbook (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1999) 225

4. John W. Powell, Campus Security and Law Enforcement (Boston: Butterworth Publishers Inc., 1981) 68-69

5. John W. Powell, Campus Security and Law Enforcement (Boston: Butterworth Publishers Inc., 1981) 70

6. John W. Powell, Campus Security and Law Enforcement (Boston: Butterworth Publishers Inc., 1981) 19

7. John W. Powell, Campus Security and Law Enforcement (Boston: Butterworth Publishers Inc., 1981) 79


9. John W. Powell, Campus Security and Law Enforcement (Boston: Butterworth Publishers Inc., 1981) 81-83

10. David G. Schrunk, Burton L. Sharpe, Bonnie L. Cooper, Madhu Thangavelu, The Moon-Resources, Future Development, and Colonization (Chichester: Wiley-Praxis, 1999) 279-290

11. Edward L. Hudgins, Martian Law (Proceedings of the Founding Convention of the Mars Society, 1998) 849


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