It comes as no surprise that the center of all three branches of the government has more federal law enforcement jobs than anywhere else in the US. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that the District of Columbia has at least 10,222 federal law enforcement officers/agents with arrest and firearms authority, which equals 1,732 officers for every 100,000 people.
Although the District’s resident population is only 632,323 (2012), that number swells to over one million on weekdays with commuting employees from nearby suburbs in Maryland and Virginia. Many of these commuters work for federal law enforcement agencies. Most of these agencies function nationwide and/or internationally but have their headquarters in D.C.; however, quite a few federal law enforcement agencies are unique to D.C.
Training for Federal Law Enforcement Careers in D.C.
Obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in criminal justice or another relevant field is the first step toward getting a job with a federal law enforcement agency. Although D.C. occupies only 68.3 square miles in area, it is home to seven accredited four-year colleges/universities. Most of the federal law enforcement agencies listed here also have their own training academy or program for new recruits
D.C. is the site of the headquarters of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), the nation’s largest, non-partisan organization representing federal law enforcement officers/agents. The D.C. chapter has over 2,300 of the 26,000 members nationwide who represent 65 different federal law enforcement agencies.
Federal Law Enforcement Agencies with Headquarters in D.C.
The following federal agencies function nationally but support many federal law enforcement jobs through their headquarters in DC:
- Bureau of Alcohol. Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) – Founded in 1792, its colorful history includes Agent Eliot Ness’s “Untouchables” (1926-36).
- Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) – Active since 1916, the State Department’s law enforcement arm is responsible for protecting the Secretary of State, the 275 U.S. diplomatic missions abroad and high-ranking dignitaries who visit the U.S. They also conduct international investigations.
- Bureau of Printing & Engraving Federal Police – Founded in 1863 to protect/secure the printing of money in D.C. and an additional facility in Fort Worth, Texas that was added in 1987.
- Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – Founded in 2002
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – founded in 1908
- Federal Protective Service – Established in 1971 as a police force to guard and protect federally owned or leased buildings/facilities across the country.
- U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) – Founded in 1790
- U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) – Founded in 2003
- U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration – Founded in 1915
- U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) – Created in 2002 as an investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security
- U.S. Marshals Service – founded by the Judiciary Act of 1789; it is the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.
- U.S. Mint Police – Founded in 1792. Protects the almost $100 billion secured in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Fort Knox, Denver and San Francisco; investigates related criminal acts.
- U.S. Park Police – founded in 1791 to guard federal parks in Washington; now also operates in New York and San Francisco. Has one of the nation’s oldest and most esteemed equestrian units.
- U.S. Secret Service – founded in 1865 to protect the nation’s leaders and safeguard U.S. currency
It is noted that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), founded in 1947, is actually headquartered in Langley, VA, a few miles outside D.C. However, there is a large division office in D.C.
Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Unique to the District
The following federal law enforcement agencies only operate in the District:
- National Zoological Park Police – Founded in 1889 to protect the 163-acre Rock Creek Zoo famous for its two giant pandas
- Smithsonian Institution Office of Protection Services – Founded in 1882. The 850-officer police force protects the building, employees, visitors and grounds of the Smithsonian Institution complex.
- Supreme Court Federal Police – Founded in 1935 when the Supreme Court moved out of the Capitol into its own building. The small police force protects the Justices, employees, visitors and the building.
- U.S. Capitol Police – Established in 1801 when the Congress moved from Philadelphia into the newly constructed Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. They protect legislators, employees and visitors from disruptions or terrorism.
- U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division – Established in 1922 as the White House Police Force. Now over 1,300 officers are responsible for protecting the White House complex, the Vice-President’s residence, the Department of the Treasury and foreign diplomatic missions in D.C.