Make this page my home page
  1. Drag the home icon in this panel and drop it onto the "house icon" in the tool bar for the browser

  2. Select "Yes" from the popup window and you're done!

August 01, 2010

PrintCommentRSS

PoliceOne Special Contributors Become a Cop
with PoliceOne Special Contributors

An overview of the federal police force

A federal police force is technically prohibited by the U.S. constitution, but instead we have what’s called federal law enforcement agencies. The reason for this is that the nation’s founders thought that the best way to maintain a democratic government was to leave law enforcement decentralized and in the hands of the individual states. That said, there is a need to have federally operated agencies to enforce various types of laws, so the distinction between federal police force and federal police agency is one primarily of semantics.

Federal law enforcement is divided into eight primary divisions or eight federal police force branches; the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF); Department of Homeland Security; U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); U.S. Secret Service; and the U.S. Marshall Service.

While they aren’t called branches of the federal police force, the reality of the situation is that some U.S. law enforcement is in the hands of the federal government. Here’s a synopsis of what these different agencies do:

The FBI is one of the oldest of the federal law enforcement agencies. It’s a federal police force tasked with protecting the U.S. against terrorist threats and intelligence offenses. They also enforce federal criminal laws and step in to help in any situation that’s too large for a local law enforcement agency. An example of this would be serial killings that would normally be above the specialty of a local police force.

The CIA is a highly secretive federal police force whose mission is to collect and evaluate foreign intelligence in an effort to protect the security of the United States. They may also be involved in covert activities in other countries at the discretion of the president of the U.S. They are highly involved in combating international terrorism and frequently work with other countries in that effort.

ICE is the second largest agency in the federal police force. They’re under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security and are in charge of enforcing laws involving border control, customs, trade and immigration. Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, they’ve been heavily involved in monitoring U.S. borders for potential terrorist suspects. They’re the federal police force that enforces illegal immigration activities throughout the U.S. and investigates illegal drug importation.

The ATF is under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Justice. They investigate and enforce the illegal trafficking of firearms and explosives as well as the theft and the unlawful sale and distribution of alcohol and tobacco.

The Department of Homeland Security is the third largest cabinet department and was created after the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2011. It’s tasked with protecting the U.S. against terrorist attacks and responding to natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes and floods.

The DEA is responsible for enforcing laws relating to controlled substances like marijuana, cocaine and heroin. They work with other federal, state and municipal agencies, as well as with foreign governments to reduce the trafficking of illegal drugs.

The Secret Service’s primary function is to protect the President of the United States, but they also guard his family, as well as the Vice-President and other high ranking government officials who might face security threats. This federal police force operates under the Department of Homeland Security and is also tasked with protecting against counterfeiting of U.S. currency and credit card fraud.

The U.S. Marshall Service is the oldest federal police force in the country. They’re in charge of conducting the safe transfer of federal prisoners and protecting federal courts and judges. They also serve as covert law enforcement on U.S. air carriers.

About the author

"Become a Cop" articles are intended to educate individuals interested in law enforcement careers about what it takes to join the force. These articles are written by PoliceOne staff members and PoliceOne contributors, and cover a wide range of topics from the basics on the different types of law enforcement careers to how to prepare for the police recruitment interview. If there's a topic you'd like to see covered, or are interested in writing for Become a Cop, email editor@policeone.com.




PoliceOne Columnists:

PoliceOne's team of expert writers provides our readers with valuable insight from both on-the-job and classroom experience.

To submit articles or become a columnist click here and include your background/CV and a sample of your writing.

All Columnists

PoliceOne Newsletter

Week-709-July-30-2014
Week-709-July-28-2014
Subscribe Now

Today's Top Stories

Thursday, July 31, 2014
All of Today's News

Discuss The News

PoliceOne News and Current Events Forum More Forums

Officer Down

All Officer Downs Submit an Officer Down

Featured Columnist

Tom Burrell
Patrolling the Waterways
with Tom Burrell