Federal and Local Law Enforcement

Abstract Police agencies are shaped by the type of government under which they operate and our government consists of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. These agencies operate with a specific purpose and objective. This paper will focus on the similarities and differences between the FBI and the local police. Police agencies operate at all levels of government, each being responsible for specific duties and functions. These agencies have the daunting task of protecting our nation from outside threats and preventing people from victimizing each other in the community.

The FBI The Mission The mission of the FBI is to uphold the law through the investigation of violations of federal criminal law; to protect the United States from foreign intelligence and terrorist activities; to provide leadership and law enforcement assistance to federal, state, local, and international agencies; and to perform these responsibilities in a manner that is responsive to the needs of the public and is faithful to the Constitution of the United States (Kessler, R. , 1993).

The agency we now know as the Federal Bureau of Investigation was founded in 1908 when Attorney General Charles J. Bonaparte appointed a force of Special Agents to be the investigative force of the Department of Justice. Prior to that, agents from the Secret Service were used to investigate federal criminal laws within its jurisdiction. From its inception, the FBI was mainly responsible for conducting internal security investigations, but their role was expanded in an effort to counter attempts made by foreign intelligence agencies to steal U. S. military and diplomatic secrets.

Today, the Bureau has given top priority to five areas that affect society the most: Counterterrorism, drugs/organized crime, foreign counterintelligence, violent crimes and white-collar crimes. In general, federal law enforcement agencies serve to enforce federal laws and regulations and protect federal property and institutions (Langworthy, R. H. , Travis III, L. F. , 1999). Contributions to Law Enforcement Technology & Training The FBI provides law enforcement agencies with services such as fingerprint identification, laboratory examinations, and police training.

The Bureau helped to promote the use of the newest technology to identify criminals. The FBI’s crime lab became the catalyst for how technology could be used to solve crimes and in conjunction with the National Crime Information Center, provided a comprehensive nationwide link for arrest and identification records developed by local and state police agencies. The Bureau placed great emphasis on specialized knowledge in the performance of police work and in doing so; Herbert Hoover established a special training school in the Bureau’s New York City office to ensure the proper training of agents.

Later, the school was moved to Washington, D. C. , and finally to Quantico, Virginia. In addition to training new federal agents, Hoover created a National Academy to train police from around the country in the latest law enforcement techniques. The main objective was to elevate the level of professionalism in law enforcement nationwide (Theoharis, A. G. , Poveda, T. G. , Rosenfeld, S. , Powers, R. G. , 1999). The Police Patrol The local police are the most visible part of the criminal justice system.

Their function is to patrol, arrest law violators, investigate crimes, enforce traffic laws, and provide crowd and traffic control. They are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and we have a direct line to contact and communicate with them. While on patrol, the officers become acquainted with members of the community; relationships are cultivated, which often times are valuable tools to the beat officer. The most dangerous aspects of police work are carried out by the uniformed patrol officers.

Unlike federal agents, patrol officers assume many roles in the community from psychologist to street fighter. In short, they are expected to be all things to all people. (Langworthy, R. H. , Travis III, L. F. , 1999). Operations Undercover Undercover operations are an investigative technique used by both federal and local law enforcement. Previously, undercover operations were prohibited und the directorship of Herbert Hoover. Agents were instead required to use informants or seek authorization to install wiretaps during an investigation of criminal activities.

The first undercover operations of the 1970’s involved “sting” operations, in which federal agents and local police set up false businesses in high crime areas in hopes of receiving stolen property from criminals. Between 1975 and 1976, ten sting operations had been conducted and by the mid-1970’s, such operations became part of the normal practice of the modern day FBI (Lyman, M. D. , 1999). Surveillance Surveillance is continuous observation of persons, places, or things by law enforcement officers. This function is also used by both federal and local agencies.

Surveillance can be fixed or stationery, moving, or electronic. The surveillance operation can be costly due to the number of officers required, special equipment, and the amount of overtime needed to maintain long periods of observation. This investigative tool has shown to provide valuable information that might not be ascertained through other means of investigation (Lyman, M. D. , 1999). Conclusion Federal and local law enforcement agencies are more similar than different. They use many of the same investigative techniques to prevent and solve crimes and have chosen to put their lives on the line daily.

Although their jurisdictional perimeters differ, their objectives are the same; to protect, serve, and keep our country and community safe from harm. Resources Lyman, M. D. , (1999), The Police; An Introduction, New Jersey, Jeff Johnston Langworthy, R. H. , Travis III, L. F. (1999), Policing In America, New Jersey, Jeff Johnston Theoharis, A. G. , Poveda, T. G. , Rosenfeld, S. , Powers, R. G. , (1999), The FBI: A Comprehensive Reference Guide, Phoenix, Arizona Kessler, R. , (1993), The FBI, New York, NY, Simon & Schuster Inc.