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Government Careers

Many Agencies Employ Law Officers

By Eric Yoder
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, June 28, 2004; 12:50 PM

The creation of the Department of Homeland Security set off a major reshuffling in the government's law enforcement structure. The goal was to improve cooperation by bringing together agencies -- many of them with law enforcement duties -- that had been scattered in several other departments.

However, DHS is not the only place to look for law enforcement job opportunities. Several other major departments, most notably the Justice Department, have substantial law enforcement units.

Homeland Security Department

The DHS Bureau of Customs and Border Protection took over many responsibilities of the old U.S. Customs Service as well as the border patrol investigation and enforcement functions of the old Immigration and Naturalization Service.

DHS also includes the U.S. Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration, the Secret Service, and the Federal Protective Service which provides security in federal buildings owned or leased by the General Services Administration, the government’s landlord agency. Most major Defense Department sites are under control of DoD, which provides its own security forces, both military and civilian.

At TSA, the most visible employees are passenger screeners, but the agency also is in charge of baggage screening. Air Marshals provide security on board airplanes.

Many positions in the U.S. Coast Guard are uniformed military, but the agency has a civilian workforce that includes criminal investigative and inspector positions.

The Secret Service is best known for protecting the President but it also enforces laws on counterfeiting, forgery, thefts and various forms of fraud. It has both a uniformed division and a division of special agents.

Justice Department

The Justice Department oversees the FBI, the DEA, the U.S. Marshals Service, ATF, and the Federal Bureau of Prison.

FBI special agents conduct investigations in organized crime, white-collar crime, financial crime, civil rights violations, bank robbery, kidnapping, terrorism, foreign counterintelligence, fugitive and drug trafficking matters, and other violations of federal statutes.

The Drug Enforcement Administration commonly has positions in criminal investigative work for special agents, forensic chemists, and intelligence research. The responsibilities of the special agents, which make up the agency’s backbone, include conducting surveillance, infiltrating drug trafficking organizations, confiscating illegal drugs, and conducting money laundering investigations.

The U.S. Marshals Service provides security services in the federal court system, including transportation and maintaining custody of prisoners, guarding prisoners in court, serving civil and criminal warrants, and seizing property under court orders.

The Bureau of Alchohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which was renamed and moved to Justice from Treasury during the law enforcement reorganization, has the leading role in investigation of international arms trafficking, illegal arms movement.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons provides security, medical care and other services in federal prisons. Virtually all prisons have ongoing needs for correctional officers, who make up the largest part of the agency workforce.

. Other Agencies

The United States Park Police provides law enforcement services to designated areas within the National Park Service (primarily the Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco, metropolitan areas) including monuments and memorials.

The Treasury Department oversees the The Internal Revenue Service criminal investigation special agents, who investigate money laundering and tax evasion cases.

Most large federal agencies have an office of inspector general, which, looks for fraud, waste, abuse and potential criminal conduct. The IGs collectively form the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency, which maintains a website with a centralized job listing for IG investigative and law enforcement personnel.

Federal Police Forces in the Capital Area

Several agencies have police forces working primarily or exclusively in the Washington, D.C. area to protect headquarters buildings, employees and top officials.

These include: · A Department of Defense police force protects the Pentagon and its grounds · A Treasury Department police force protects the Bureau of Engraving and Printing · A postal police force protects U.S. Postal Service headquarters · A Health and Human Services police force protects the National Institutes of Health · A U.S. Mint police force protects the Mint headquarters.

On Capitol Hill, the U.S. Capitol Police, an arm of Congress, has primary jurisdiction over congressional buildings, parks, and streets. The Government Printing Office maintains a police force, as does the Library of Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court

Editor's note: This updated article by Eric Yoder, was aquired by washingtonpost.com on February 10, 2003.

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