The law enforcement agencies of the Atlantic Federation and the Cosmic Era are very well armed, fielding everything from advanced firearms to paramilitary warships, and legions of robotic troopers. This tremendous amount of firepower is daunting, even to the men and women of those departments. The problem is that the average resident of an arcology or other CE megastructure isn't emotionally or socially prepared or conditioned to respond to something like a squad of paramilitary armored troopers, or a large force of wojeks. This lead to a number of unfortunate encounters between citizens of the Federation and law enforcement troops, which generated a large amount of societal friction. Even heavy handed manipulation of the daily discourse couldn't diffuse this hostility.
There were riots.
The Public Safety Department
The PSD was founded as a non-lethal alternative to traditional and private security and law enforcement agencies. The agents of the PSD are very specifically not armed, and if they are equipped with gear, it is always non-lethal. The department is first and foremost a peacekeeping force and is not engaged in law enforcement. If there is a situation where law enforcement forces are needed, the department alerts and informs whatever local law enforcement forces are assigned to the area or relevant to the situation.
Item 1 - Preserve public safety and security
Item 2 - Monitor and alleviate social stress in public places
Item 3 - Assist citizens
Item 4 - Escort Law Enforcers in public places
The Public Safety Department was created through an experiment by an AISC, NOMOS, which was attached to the New Nuyork Anti-Crime computer system. After numerous hostile encounters and several serious riots, NOMOS postulated that a 'Mayberry' unit might be useful in functioning as an extension of law enforcement into the areas where violent and dangerous crime were very rare.
NOMOS initiated a very small department within New Nuyork arco #3. The Mobile Armored Police were withdrawn from the arco, and an unarmed, unarmored Politeness Task Force were deployed. Within several weeks, the stress levels inside #3 were half of what levels were in other parts of the city. After a period of debate with the Commonwealth of New England's Police Commission, NOMOS was approved to institute a full arco deployment of it's Safety Department. It was considered a complete success.
There are three major tiers of operatives within the Public Safety Department; monitors, inspectors, and enforcers.
Monitors work from a central information center, and remotely observe public spaces within their jurisdiction. They do not monitor things as mundane and data heavy as cameras and monitors, but rather they have access to the bioscanners within said space, and these systems link with the gesund auf devices and remotely skin resident and citizen personal networks. They look for biometric patterns associated with people who are experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety, hostility, or fear. If a monitor detects someone, or a location with elevated stress levels, they dispatch other personnel to the area.
Inspectors are men and women who patrol areas, act as visible presence, and respond to monitor calls. The inspector is a Face, with social skills training, and are trained to identify the cause of stresses, and paths to diffuse these problems. This can be as simple as helping a parent find a missing child, prevent a romantic tryst that has been discovered from becoming a case of assault, or otherwise find and fix said problems without calling in the big guns.
Enforcers are the 'small guns' response. Enforcers will typically work with Inspectors, acting as spotters and bodyguards, and can act in a supporting role to the Inspector in crowd control operations. Enforcers are armed with non-lethal weapons, with a squirt gun, taser, or some other non-lethal weapon. The enforcer is the quick acting force to end a situation before it gets out of hand if the inspector isn't able to de-escalate it.
The Public Safety Department has a number of key resources, with the most important being public data monitoring system. The PSD has a wide reach for biometric monitoring, access to public surveillance systems, and basic access to everyone's personal data network.
Operatives and agents of the PSD take extensive training and education. Accordingly, the PSD has a number of academies and training grounds. The department has its own extensive administration, and Continuing Education systems.
Where various law enforcement and security companies respond to their tasks with everything from smartguns and police mecha,and jetpacks, and cyber-police dogs, the PSD has Boots on the Ground. PSD agents are notable for the LACK of equipment they have. The PSD doesn't even have vehicles and relies on public transit, their weapons are picked by the enforcers themselves, and the department doesn't have any arsenals, no armored vehicles, just biometric scanners, and communications systems.
The PSD, regardless of it's local name or incarnation, Inspectors are Sheriffs and Enforcers are Deputies. They carry badges and credentials that give them a high degree of importance and authority. This Tin Star authority is made sacrosanct by the fact that the PSD doesn't use it.
After NOMOS' creation of it's Mayberry task force, and the widespread adoption of Public Safety Departments across the Federation, the PSD became a sort of 'Rich Police'. Outside of arcologies and space stations, an unarmed, unarmored, Olde timey police officer is going to be mincemeat. The geofronts and favelas are rife with dangerous people, the sort who are more than capable of handling cops in power armor. This furthers the feeling of disassociation between the haves and have-nots between the arcos and everyone else.
The rich and well to do in the arcos have their minor affairs policed by the PSD, while the poor and those who live in the shadows get to experience iron boots and the much of the same gear the military uses.
Fish Out of Water - the agents of the PSD are geared toward acting as part of a very large data mining and monitoring force, and responding to the most trivial of issues, with encountering something like an actual murderer, terrorist, or otherwise serious criminal being a once in a decade, or even once in a lifetime case for an agent. Divested from this system, say if the agent has been dropped out of the system, fired, or even deported, they have to face a brutal world, one they have been insulated from in their glass and gold tower.
The Hunter - a PSD agent is pursuing a target out of an arco into the underworld. To this end, they find and employ the rough and tumble PCs in their mission to find an arco criminal.