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Law Enforcement: Federal, State, and Local Policing

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Jurisdiction is defined in our textbooks, as “The legal authority or power to create and enforce laws within a particular area” (Wright, 2012).
Law enforcement agencies have different divisions that supervise a range of jurisdictions, all with the collective intent: to safeguard citizens and implement the laws passed by local, state, and federal agencies of the government. The difference between federal and local police jurisdiction is determined by which law has been violated. Depending on where you are at, and what you are doing, some different types of law enforcement agents may take an interest in your actions.

If a federal crime involves federal law, federal authorities have jurisdiction. Federal police officers have jurisdiction over crimes that impact the nation. For instance, federal law enforcement is responsible for investigating crimes that involve international conflict or cross the border of states. Federal police officers are responsible of crimes such as kidnapping, treason, immigration, human trafficking, terrorism, and drug smuggling. If a local crime involves local laws, local authorities have jurisdiction. This can be somewhat difficult since some crimes may violate laws of both local and federal jurisdictions. History of federal policing in the United States

In 1908, during the Theodore Roosevelt presidency, Attorney General, Charles Bonaparte created the FBI which was original a force of special agents. In the beginning it did not have a name, nor was an official leader designated, other than the attorney general. The forerunners of the FBI were these Secret Service men and former detectives. Federal Law enforcement is well over 200 years old in The United States, governing a wide range of law enforcement agencies to maintain public order and the law related to matters that affect the United States as a whole. “There are 65 federal agencies and 27 offices of inspector general that employ full time personnel authorized to make arrests and carry firearms” (Discover policing.org, 2014). Examples of federal policing agencies

U.S. Marshall’s Service (USMS): The Marshals and their Deputies “serve subpoenas, summonses, writs, warrants and other process issued by the courts, made all the arrests and handled all the prisoners. They also disbursed the money. The Marshals paid the fees and expenses of the court clerks, U.S. Attorneys, jurors and witnesses. They rented the courtrooms and jail space and hired the bailiffs, criers, and janitors. In effect, they ensured that the courts functioned smoothly” (U.S. Marshall’s Service, 2015). The Department of Justice: Formerly the largest, and remains, as of 2014, most prominent collection of law enforcement agencies, and at the federal level has handled the most law enforcement duties. “The Department of Justice, like other legal actors who monitor and seek to influence police conduct, cannot assess which remedial measures are likely to be most effective and efficient without information about how particular policing management practices affect police conduct and crime control” (Harmon, 2013)

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is to “enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the United States, or any other competent jurisdiction, those organizations and principal members of organizations, involved in the growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United States; and to recommend and support non-enforcement programs aimed at reducing the availability of illicit controlled substances on the domestic and international markets” (United States Drug Enforcement Agency, 2015). Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP): is a United States federal law enforcement agency. “They are a subdivision of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Bureau is responsible for the administration of the federal prison system. The system also handles prisoners who committed acts considered felonies under the District of Columbia’s law.

The Bureau was established in 1930 to provide more progressive and humane care for federal inmates, to professionalize the prison service, and to ensure consistent and centralized administration of the 11 federal prisons in operation at the time” (Federal Bureau of Prisons, 2015). They are also responsible for carrying out all judiciary ordered federal executions . They have their own jurisdiction over inmates once in custody they can choose whether to follow a court’s recommendations or credits for time served, and managing their release dates based on their guidelines, not the court’s . Department of Homeland Security (DHS): In 2002 was created by an act of Congress, in response to the 9/11 attacks. “The Department of Homeland Security is to secure the nation from the many threats we face. This requires the dedication of more than 240,000 employees in jobs that range from aviation and border security to emergency response, from cybersecurity analyst to chemical facility inspector. Our duties are wide-ranging, but our goal is clear – keeping America safe.” (Department of Homeland Security, 2015).

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP): Includes the Office of Air and Marine, the Office of Border Patrol, and the Office of Field Operations. They have the primary responsibility of enforcing and customs, immigration laws, and securing borders at and between the ports of entry of the United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): Is a government agency that belongs to the United States Department of Justice “help protect … from the most dangerous threats facing our nation—from international and domestic terrorists to spies on U.S. soil…from cyber villains to corrupt government officials…from mobsters to violent street gangs…from child predators to serial killers. Along the way, we help defend and uphold our nation’s economy, physical and electronic infrastructure, and democracy” (Federal Bureau of Investigations, 2015).

The Secret Service: Is a government agency that ensures “the security of our President, our Vice President, their families, the White House, the Vice President’s Residence, national and visiting world leaders, former Presidents, and events of national significance. The Secret Service also protects the integrity of our currency and investigates crimes against our national financial system committed by criminals around the world and in cyberspace” (United States Secret Service, 2015). Federal Protective Service (FPS): Responsible for federal law enforcement in federal buildings and properties. Including elements of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. How are federal policing agencies used to enforce the law?

Federal policing agencies work closely with local agencies to maintain law and public order related to matters affecting the country as a whole, since many crimes crossover to either be federal or local crimes, when working together to maintain the laws, they are all working for a common goal which is to maintain law and public order in the United States. Federal policing agencies tend to assist in law enforcement activities, rather than directing enforcing them, by sharing of information necessary between them to assist in the investigation of the crime.


Department of Homeland Security, 2015, Retrieved from http://www.dhs.gov/about-dhs Federal Bureau of Investigations, 2015, Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/about-us Federal Bureau of Prisons, 2015, Retrieved from: http://www.bop.gov/about/agency/ HARMON, R. (2013). WHY DO WE (STILL) LACK DATA ON POLICING?. Marquette Law Review, 96(4), 1119-1146 Wright, J. (2012). Introduction to criminal justice. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. United States Drug Enforcement Agency, 2015, Retrieved from: http://www.dea.gov/about/mission.shtml United States Marshall’s Service, 2015, Retrieved from http://www.usmarshals.gov/history/broad_range.htm United States Secret Service, 2015, Retrieved from: http://www.secretservice.gov/mission.shtml

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