According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics there were 1,672 federal law enforcement officers with arrest and firearm authority employed in Colorado in 2008 with a steady increase in subsequent years. Colorado is especially famous for its Rocky Mountain beauty and many of these officers work as federal rangers in the state’s many national parks, forests and monuments. In fact, tourism is the second largest industry in Colorado, bringing in almost $17 billion a year (2012) and employing thousands.
There are also career opportunities with other federal law enforcement agencies operating in the state. These jobs typically require a bachelor’s degree and Colorado has over 15 colleges and universities to choose from. Fields of study best suited for careers in federal law enforcement include subjects like criminal justice, homeland security, police science, law enforcement, legal studies or criminology.
Federal Law Enforcement Agencies in Colorado
The following federal law enforcement agencies have an active presence in Colorado:
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) – Denver, Colorado Springs (field offices)
- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) – Denver, Englewood (see below)
- Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – Colorado Springs
- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) – Denver (division office)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – Denver (field office)
- Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBP) – Englewood, Florence (federal correctional institutions)
- National Park Service (NPS) – (see below)
- US Coast Guard (USCG) – Colorado Springs (see below)
- US Customs Enforcement (ICE) – Denver, Colorado Springs (field offices)
- US Customs and Border Protection – Denver (service port)
- US Marshals Service – Denver (district office); Colorado Springs, Durango, Grand Junction, Pueblo (sub-offices)
- US Secret Service – Denver, Colorado Springs (field offices)
National Park Service in Colorado
National Park Rangers work at Colorado’s national parks, forests and monuments. They enforce rules/regulations/statutes; give educational programs/guided tours; conduct search/rescue operations; manage park resources (track/count wildlife); patrol the backcountry and even operate snowplows when needed. Colorado’s national parks are:
- Rocky Mountain NP
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP
- Great Sand Dunes NP
- Mesa Verde NP
The Centennial State also has eight national forests, a national recreation area that holds three lakes, and eight national monuments including Colorado National Monument famed for red rock canyons/monoliths/pillars/cliffs and Dinosaur National Monument which boasts ancient dinosaur fossils.
National Park Ranger Training Academy
Rangeley, CO is home to the National Park Seasonal Training Program Academy operated by Colorado Northwestern Community College. The 12-week course is offered twice annually in the spring and fall. Those who successfully complete the course are certified to serve as National Park Service seasonal law enforcement officers. Training focuses on regulating the conservation of national park wildlife and other resources in order to preserve them for the enjoyment of future generations. Students must be 21 years old to attend. The course can be part of a degree program.
The Central Intelligence Agency in Colorado
The CIA is in the process of moving its domestic division headquarters to Denver from its command post in Langley, Virginia. The domestic division handles operations and recruitment within the United States. The move was said to be intended to improve innovation. It is unknown how many CIA employees will be re-locating to Denver.
Colorado has been an important intelligence hub since 2001. Aerospace Data Facility, located within Buckley Air Force Base in the Denver suburb of Aurora, is responsible for the technical downlink of data from intelligence satellites. In addition, Homeland Security conducts domestic intelligence operations at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.
U.S. Coast Guard in Colorado
It might be a surprise to discover that the U.S. Coast Guard is active in the landlocked state of Colorado! However, Coast Guard personnel work at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs alongside both their Canadian counterparts and members of other branches of the U.S. military. Together they are responsible for executing North American Defense Command Operations which has the mission of responding to threats against the U.S. or Canada. The Coast Guard unit is headed by Rear Admiral Linda Fagan who is the main advisor on maritime issues.
Multi-Agency Cooperation Pays Off in Colorado
On February 7, 2012, Aurora, Colorado was the scene of the largest drug bust in Colorado history thanks to the cooperative efforts of federal and local law enforcement agencies. Members of the Department of Homeland Security and ICE worked with Denver’s drug enforcement and gang task forces to arrest 97 drug dealers/gang members and confiscate $415,140 in cash, 26,129 grams of cocaine, 1,000 grams of crack, one pound of methamphetamine and 12 weapons. The successful operation highlighted the benefits for local police of having the cooperation of federal law enforcement agencies.