The Federal Government’s Army of Agents
Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.
One item that drew notice during the protests in Washington, D.C. was the large number of unidentified law enforcement personnel used for crowd control and other security duties. Who were these people, and what agency did they work for? Most said nothing.
But what the question really illustrates isn’t just how vast the federal government’s security apparatus is – and how it quickly it grew after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
According to Politico, federal security forces have added the equivalent headcount of “the entire Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives” every year since 2001.
The government counts up its law enforcement personnel only every eight years, and all told, at last count in 2016, the federal government employed over 132,000 civilian law enforcement officers—only about half of which come from the major “brand name” agencies like the FBI, ATF, Secret Service, DEA and CBP. The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, which serves as the general academy for federal agencies who don’t have their own specialized training facilities, lists around 80 different agencies whose trainees pass through its doors in Georgia, from the IRS’ criminal investigators and the Transportation Security Administration’s air marshals to the Offices of the Inspector General for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Railroad Retirement Board. Don’t forget the armed federal officers at the Environmental Protection Agency or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement, whose 150 agents investigate conservation crime like the Tunas Convention Act of 1975 (16 USC § 971-971k) and the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 (16 USC § 773-773k).
The numbers alone are astounding. But so, too is how many of them are armed:
Congress was surprised when the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction—known as SIGAR—began procuring its own ammunition, flashing lights and body armor for its special agents. Just like its laws, there are too many federal agents for the government to keep track of.
Who do all those unknown, unidentified (and armed) officers work for? The answer is Uncle Sam – maybe via the Bureau of Prisons, of perhaps the Federal Reserve police…or maybe the police for the National Gallery of Art.
And their numbers are growing each and every year.
You can find a list of 80 federal agencies with law enforcement staff here.