History UsefulNotes / AmericanLawEnforcement

19th May '16 4:58:31 PM nombretomado
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A common situation in some smaller states is to give the state police agency primary responsibility for most homicide investigations. For example, the Massachusetts State Police handles all homicides occurring outside of Boston, Springfield, and Worcester (sorry, ''Literature/JesseStone''). In Maine, the Staties investigate homicides occurring outside of Bangor, Portland, and [[MurderSheWrote Cabot Cove]].

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A common situation in some smaller states is to give the state police agency primary responsibility for most homicide investigations. For example, the Massachusetts State Police handles all homicides occurring outside of Boston, Springfield, and Worcester (sorry, ''Literature/JesseStone''). In Maine, the Staties investigate homicides occurring outside of Bangor, Portland, and [[MurderSheWrote [[Series/MurderSheWrote Cabot Cove]].
15th May '16 1:35:33 AM KYCubbie
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US law states that anything between the coast and 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) out is state territory, while beyond that out to international waters is federal territory.

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US law states that anything between the coast and 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) out[[note]](except in Florida and Texas, where the limit is 9 nautical miles (16.7 km) out for historic reasons beyond the scope of this page)[[/note]] is state territory, while beyond that out to international waters is federal territory.
10th May '16 3:20:02 PM nightkiller
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The National Guard is run by state and is under the authority of the Governor of that state. The President can, however, "federalize" a state National Guard, placing them under his or her control. The most notable case was in 1957, where Arkansas National Guard troopers were taken into federal command to enforce racial desegregation in Little Rock schools.

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The National Guard is run by state and is under the authority of the Governor of that state. The President can, however, "federalize" a state National Guard, placing them under his or her control. The most notable case (other than wartime mobilizations) was in 1957, where Arkansas National Guard troopers were taken into federal command to enforce racial desegregation in Little Rock schools.
10th May '16 3:16:50 PM nightkiller
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Remember--it's the Drug Enforcement ADMINISTRATION,not the Drug Enforcement Agency. Even journalists get that one wrong.
10th May '16 3:12:21 PM nightkiller
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* noted above, the FBI made its rep battling bank robbers and kidnappers. The quantum leap forward in automotive technology in the late 20s and early 30s allowed criminals to rob or kidnap in one state and avoid prosecution by simply hotfooting it across a state line. To combat this, Congress passed the Federal Kidnapping Act of 1932 (in response to the infamous Lindbergh kidnapping), and the first of several laws against bank robbery in 1934. Now the FBI is automatically called in in such cases.

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* noted above, the FBI made its rep battling bank robbers and kidnappers. The quantum leap forward in automotive technology in the late 20s and early 30s allowed criminals to rob or kidnap in one state and avoid prosecution by simply hotfooting it across a state line. To combat this, Congress passed the Federal Kidnapping Act of 1932 (in response to the infamous Lindbergh kidnapping), and the first of several laws against bank robbery in 1934.1934 (most U.S. banks are federally-insured). Now the FBI is automatically called in in such cases.
18th Apr '16 7:00:35 PM karstovich2
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In fiction, the DEA has never achieved the fame of the FBI although it has fared somewhat better than the ATF. Its most notable appearance is probably in ''Series/BreakingBad'', which featured a DEA agent, Walter White's brother-in-law Hank Schraeder, as something of a HeroAntagonist as Walt built up his meth empire.

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In fiction, the DEA has never achieved the fame of the FBI although it has fared somewhat better than the ATF. Its most notable appearance is probably in ''Series/BreakingBad'', which featured a DEA agent, Walter White's brother-in-law Hank Schraeder, Schrader, as something of a HeroAntagonist as Walt built up his meth empire.
18th Apr '16 6:58:08 PM karstovich2
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In fiction, the DEA has never achieved the fame of the FBI although it has fared somewhat better than the ATF.

to:

In fiction, the DEA has never achieved the fame of the FBI although it has fared somewhat better than the ATF. Its most notable appearance is probably in ''Series/BreakingBad'', which featured a DEA agent, Walter White's brother-in-law Hank Schraeder, as something of a HeroAntagonist as Walt built up his meth empire.
18th Apr '16 6:54:41 PM karstovich2
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Aside from the issue of needing to make the person submit to a citizen's arrest, once you have been considered to legally do so, you're now responsible for that person... Which makes it even less appealing.

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Aside from the issue of needing to make the person submit to a citizen's arrest, once you have been considered to legally do so, you're now responsible for that person... Which makes it even less appealing. Also, if you're wrong, the person you "arrested" may (depending on the circumstances) be able to sue you for false imprisonment. Which makes it ''really'' unappealing.
7th Feb '16 8:04:32 PM lvthn13
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Alternately, in many rural counties, especially in the south, the Sheriff's Department may be the most powerful local agency. This may be the case because the county has numerous towns too small for police departments, or one town that does support a police department but also a large county with a significant but widely dispersed population. In such counties, deputies may fulfill most or all of the roles local police are typically responsible for.

Several distinctions typically exist between local and county hierarchies, as well. The sheriff is always an elected official, but the police chief may be appointed. Consequently, while the chief can be fired, the sheriff may require a staggering effort to remove from office sooner than the next election. The sheriff may also have far broader powers over his department; many sheriffs can and do set "morality guidelines" regulating everything from facial hair to cohabitation status (yes - a deputy can be legally discharged for shacking up without getting married in some counties), and may be able to fire deputies for any reason or no reason (by technically not firing them, but ending their contract of employment, as the sheriff may be able to deputize and release at his own discretion, without oversight), even if that reason is unbelievably stupid. By contrast, most chiefs are tightly bound by policies and regulations and have significant oversight. As the sheriff may also be responsible for the county jail, the coroner's office, issuance of various licenses and permits, serving warrants, and numerous other tasks, he is sometimes the most powerful public official in the county.

In counties where both agencies have comparable powers and responsibilities, don't be surprised to see interdepartment rivalry, sometimes friendly, sometimes less so. Occasionally state departments get thrown into the ecosystem as well, and typically neither local department likes them for it.
10th Jan '16 7:27:00 AM DocWildNole
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** The firearms carried vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Until the late 20th century, most officers carried 5 or 6 shot revolvers chambered in .38 caliber or .357 Magnum, and Colt or Smith & Wesson were the manufacturers of choice. More or less concurrently with the "War on Drugs," departments across the country began switching to semi-automatic handguns with 10, 12 or even 16 round magazines, chambered in 9mm or .40 caliber; Glock, Beretta, Sig Sauer seem to be the most popular brands. Almost all jurisdictions also require 12 gauge shotguns as standard equipment in patrol cars. SWAT teams use even more lethal weaponry, including sniper rifles and submachine guns. And undercover officers may use almost anything that's easily concealable.

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** The firearms carried vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Until the late 20th century, most officers carried 5 or 6 shot revolvers chambered in .38 caliber or .357 Magnum, and Colt or Smith & Wesson were the manufacturers of choice. This was mostly because, contrary to what you might think, police departments assumed ''no'' familiarity with weapons with their new recruits, and [[RevolversAreForAmateurs the "wheelgun" was much easier to learn than most semi-autos of the day]]. The long association of revolvers with the police, of course, helped create the RevolversAreJustBetter trope. However, one of the things the ''Film/DirtyHarry'' series got right was the rarity of the [[HandCannon "most powerful handgun in the world;'']] most officers saw the increase in firepower of the .44 Magnum as not being worth the vastly increased hand strength and target practice necessary to handle one well.

**
More or less concurrently with the "War on Drugs," departments across the country began switching to semi-automatic handguns with 10, 12 or even 16 round magazines, chambered in 9mm or .40 caliber; Glock, Beretta, Sig Sauer seem to be the most popular brands. Almost all jurisdictions also require [[ShotgunsAreJustBetter 12 gauge shotguns shotguns]] as standard equipment in patrol cars. SWAT teams use even more lethal weaponry, including sniper rifles {{SniperRifle}}s, so-called "assault rifles, and even [[MoreDakka submachine guns.guns]]. And undercover officers may use almost anything that's easily concealable.



The FBI is automatically called in if a crime crosses state lines, or in special cases for crimes that do not but that fall under federal jurisdiction for one reason or another (there are over 200 categories of such crimes). A federal crime typically involves something that crosses state lines or involves multiple states or interstate commerce, or one that interferes directly with the federal government's business--assaulting a federal employee in official business, crimes on federal property, [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking destruction of mailboxes...]] what? You read that right, that's a federal matter (mailboxes deal with the mail, which his handled by the US Postal Service, which is a federal government corporation created by Congress' power under Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the Constitution to create a post office). Good luck actually getting the FBI to come investigate someone messing with your mail, but legally it ''is'' their problem.
* Although they do investigate serial mailbox destruction as it is a sign of tampering the mail and crimes like identity theft and [[DestroyTheEvidence destruction of evidence]]. Also since Banks are federally insured, they investigate Bank robberies and white collar crimes associated with them.
* Additionally, they are allowed to investigate any crime which uses interstate communications. Recently it has become involved in such matters as the investigation of Cybercrime.
* And as far as mailboxes, most people don't realize that the Post Office has its own police force so chances are, they handle it first before passing it on to the FBI.

The FBI also may be called in to investigate local and State police if there is a conflict of interest or accusations of corruption. National law gives them the power to investigate if anyone's "Civil Rights" are violated. Since one of the rights is the right to a fair trial, this automatically covers corruption or brutality.

Since copyright falls under federal law, the FBI puts warnings that they will raid copyright infringers and slap them with heavy fines and prison sentences on every videotape and DVD sold in America. How much they actually do this depends upon the film industry's generous [[strike:bribes]] ''campaign contributions'' to members of Congress this term, and, also, the scale of the violation-- basically, if you make a business out of counterfeiting Blu-Rays, sooner or later the G-Men will show up.

Kidnapping also is within the FBI's jurisdiction; it was made so by the Federal Kidnapping Act of 1932, which was passed in response to the infamous Lindbergh kidnapping.

In general the FBI's jurisdiction often has it going after the "big fish" - [[TheMafia Mafia]] families and the like. They usually don't bother with the small fry, leaving the local police to handle them, which is just as well, since they don't have jurisdiction anyway. The FBI is however heavily reliant on local police departments for knowledge of their own jurisdictions and often manpower. The Bureau typically has more money and resources than it has people in a particular city or town, which means that, usually, both the FBI and local police have an incentive to work together where they can. [[RealityIsUnrealistic Unlike in fiction]] the FBI (and other federal law enforcement agencies) normally cannot unilaterally [[JurisdictionFriction "take over"]] a case from state or local law enforcement and prevent them from investigating (state and local agencies are created and operate under the law of the states they're located in, they're not subordinate to the FBI or the federal government).

A little known fact is that the FBI has jurisdiction over US diplomatic facilities, as they are considered to be part of the United States. The FBI has over 50 overseas offices situated in various US embassies and consulates. They are also responsible for investigating attacks on any of these facilities.

There are quite a few people (including Americans) who tend to conflate the FBI with the CIA, since they're both major federal goverment bodies that are supposed to stop "bad guys", can cause govermental paranoia, and have three letter acronyms. The CIA doesn't deal with crime at all, however; they spy on foreign nations instead. The FBI does have responsibility to catch foreign spies in the US, but they don't have any Film/JamesBond-types to do it with.
* During WWII, G-Men operated undercover in Latin America keeping tabs on the Germans (remember Cary Grant in ''Film/{{Notorious}}''). The CIA took over this function after 1947 (but probably became less focused on the Germans).

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The FBI is automatically called in if a crime crosses state lines, or in special cases for crimes that do not but that fall under federal jurisdiction for one reason or another (there another. There are over 200 categories currently ''at least'' 5,000 specific federal offenses, so an exact enumeration of such crimes). what might bring in the FBI is beyond the scope of this article or, indeed, all the combined contributors to this wiki. However, some general guidelines, important specifics, and interesting cases can be noted:

*
A federal crime typically involves something that crosses state lines or involves multiple states or interstate commerce, or one that interferes directly with the federal government's business--assaulting a federal employee in official business, crimes on federal property, [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking destruction of mailboxes...]] what? You read that right, that's a federal matter (mailboxes deal with the mail, which his is handled by the US Postal Service, which is a federal government corporation created by Congress' power under Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the Constitution to create a post office). Good luck actually getting the FBI to come investigate someone messing with your mail, but legally it ''is'' their problem.
* ** Although they do investigate serial ''serial''l mailbox destruction as it is a sign of tampering with the mail and and, also, crimes like identity theft and [[DestroyTheEvidence destruction of evidence]]. Also since Banks are federally insured, they investigate Bank robberies and white collar crimes associated with them.
* Additionally, they are allowed to investigate any crime which uses interstate communications. Recently it has become involved in such matters as the investigation of Cybercrime.
evidence]].
* ** And as far as mailboxes, most people don't realize that the Post Office has its own police force so chances are, they handle it first before passing it on to the FBI.

* The FBI also may be called in to investigate local and State police if there is a conflict of interest or accusations of corruption. National law gives them the power to investigate if anyone's "Civil Rights" are violated. Since one of the rights is the right to a fair trial, this automatically covers corruption or brutality.

* Since copyright falls under federal law, the FBI puts warnings that they will raid copyright infringers and slap them with heavy fines and prison sentences on every videotape and DVD sold in America. How much they actually do this depends upon the film industry's generous [[strike:bribes]] ''campaign contributions'' to members of Congress this term, and, also, the scale of the violation-- basically, if you make a business out of counterfeiting Blu-Rays, sooner or later the G-Men will show up.

Kidnapping also is within * noted above, the FBI's jurisdiction; it was FBI made so its rep battling bank robbers and kidnappers. The quantum leap forward in automotive technology in the late 20s and early 30s allowed criminals to rob or kidnap in one state and avoid prosecution by simply hotfooting it across a state line. To combat this, Congress passed the Federal Kidnapping Act of 1932, which was passed in 1932 (in response to the infamous Lindbergh kidnapping.

kidnapping), and the first of several laws against bank robbery in 1934. Now the FBI is automatically called in in such cases.

*
In general the FBI's jurisdiction often has it going after the "big fish" - [[TheMafia Mafia]] families and the like. They usually don't bother with the small fry, leaving the local police to handle them, which is just as well, since they don't have jurisdiction anyway. The FBI is however heavily reliant on local police departments for knowledge of their own jurisdictions and often manpower. The Bureau typically has more money and resources than it has people in a particular city or town, which means that, usually, both the FBI and local police have an incentive to work together where they can. [[RealityIsUnrealistic Unlike in fiction]] the FBI (and other federal law enforcement agencies) normally cannot unilaterally [[JurisdictionFriction "take over"]] a case from state or local law enforcement and prevent them from investigating (state investigating. State and local agencies are created and operate under the law of the states they're located in, which means they're not subordinate to the FBI or the federal government).

government.

*
A little known fact is that the FBI has jurisdiction over US diplomatic facilities, as they are considered to be part of the United States. The FBI has over 50 overseas offices situated in various US embassies and consulates. They are also responsible for investigating attacks on any of these facilities.

* There are quite a few people (including Americans) who tend to conflate the FBI with the CIA, since they're both major federal goverment bodies that are supposed to stop "bad guys", can cause govermental paranoia, and have three letter acronyms. The CIA doesn't deal with crime at all, however; they spy on foreign nations instead. The FBI does have responsibility to catch foreign spies in the US, but they don't have any Film/JamesBond-types to do it with.
* ** During WWII, G-Men operated undercover in Latin America keeping tabs on the Germans (remember Cary Grant in ''Film/{{Notorious}}''). The CIA took over this function after 1947 (but probably became less focused on the Germans).



While the plainclothes agents are, ironically, the most familiar to the public, the Secret Service also provides guards to protect the White House. They wear uniforms and carry firearms the same as any other police officer, and have patrol cars for traveling near the White House, and are known as the "Secret Service, Uniformed Division." These guys also travel along with the President providing additional security and firepower as part of a "Counter-Assault Team," basically a SWAT team that exists to fight off an organized, armed attack on the President.

to:

While the plainclothes agents are, ironically, the most familiar to the public, the Secret Service also provides guards to protect the White House. They wear uniforms and carry firearms the same as any other police officer, and have patrol cars for traveling near the White House, and are known as the "Secret Service, Uniformed Division." These guys also travel along with the President providing additional security and firepower as part of a "Counter-Assault Team," basically a SWAT team that exists to fight off an organized, armed attack on the President.
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