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United States of America

General Information

Admission to the OSCE: 25 June 1973

Policing overview: Law enforcement in the United States is decentralized. Federal authorities deal with violations of federal law that fall within their specific jurisdictions. There are approximately 65 different federal police agencies.  At the local level, each of the 50 sovereign states has its own state legislature that enacts criminal statutes under their state constitutions. Most of the U.S. States have police at all levels - municipal, county and state level.


Police Services

1. General information
2. Staff data
3. Education / Training
4. Oversight

1. General information
There are 15,766 police departments in the United States, 12,656 of which are at the local level.

2. Staff data
As of 2006, the approximate number of local police officers was 452,000, approximately 11% of full-time sworn personnel in local police departments were women.

3. Education / Training
In some jurisdictions new local police recruits are required to complete an average of about 1,500 hours of training compared to about 800 for others. On average, about three-quarters of training hours are required by state law, with the remainder being an agency requirement. Overall, just 3% of departments operate a training academy; however, nearly all serving a population of 300,000 or more do so. Nationwide 45% of all officers are employed by a department that operates an academy.

4. Oversight
The majority of police departments have written policies on various sensitive topics such as the use of force, handling juveniles and citizen complaints.

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Federal Bureau of Investigation

1. General information
2. Functions and missions
3. Staff data
4. Education / Training

1. General information
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operates under the U.S. Department of Justice.

2. Functions and missions
The main functions of the FBI are to:

  • protect the United States against terrorist attacks, foreign intelligence operations and espionage as well as against cybercrime and high-technology crimes;
  • fight corruption at all levels;
  • protect civil rights;
  • combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises, major white-collar crime as well as significant violent crime;
  • support federal, state, local and international partners;
  • upgrade technology to successfully perform the FBI's mission.

3. Staff data
As of August 31, 2006, the FBI had a total of 30,626 employees. That includes 12,617 special agents and 18,009 support staff, such as intelligence analysts, language specialists, scientists, information technology specialists, and other professionals.

4. Education / Training
FBI special agents must hold a 4-year degree from a college or university accredited by one of the regional or national institutional associations recognized by the United States Secretary of Education, and must possess at least three years of professional work experience.
FBI recruits are trained at the FBI Academy, located on the United States Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia.

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Drug Enforcement Administration

1. General information
2. Functions and missions
3. Structure and organization
4. Staff data
5. Education / Training

1. General information
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) operates under the U.S. Department of Justice.

2. Functions and missions
The mission of the DEA is to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the United States, or any other competent jurisdiction, those organizations and principal members of organizations, involved in the growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United States; and to recommend and support non-enforcement programs aimed at reducing the availability of illicit controlled substances on the domestic and international markets.

3. Structure and organization
To view the organization chart, please go to the Attachments section below.

4. Staff data
The DEA has an estimated 4,400 officers.

5. Education / Training
The DEA training Academy is situated on the United States Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia. The location is the same as the FBI Academy.

Attachments

  DEA organization [English] (105.78 Kb) DEA organization [English] (Format: ) http://polis.osce.org/countries/view?item_id=69&attach_id=161
Organization Chart of the Drug Enforcement Admnistration.
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection

1. General information
2. Functions and missions
3. Structure and organization
4. Staff data

1. General information
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security. CBP combined the inspectional workforces and broad border authorities of U.S. Customs, U.S. Immigration, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the entire U.S. Border Patrol.

2. Functions and missions
CBP's top priority is to keep terrorists and their weapons from entering the United States. While welcoming all legitimate travellers and trade, CBP officers and agents enforce all applicable U.S. laws. CBP prevents narcotics, agricultural pests and smuggled goods from entering the country and also identifies and arrests those with outstanding criminal warrants.

3. Structure and organization
To view the organization chart, please go to the Attachments section below.

4. Staff data
CBP includes more than 41,000 employees to manage, control and protect the Nation’s borders, at and between the official ports of entry.

Attachments

  Organization Chart - U.S. Customs and Border Protection [English] (29.93 Kb) Organization Chart - U.S. Customs and Border Protection [English] (Format: PDF) http://polis.osce.org/countries/view?item_id=69&attach_id=162
CBP organization chart
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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

1. General information
2. Functions and missions
3. Staff data 

1. General information
Created in March 2003, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the largest investigative branch of the Department of Homeland Security.

2. Functions and missions
ICE's mission is to protect America and uphold public safety by identifying criminal activities and eliminating vulnerabilities that pose a threat to the nation’s borders, as well as enforcing economic, transportation and infrastructure security. By protecting national and border security, ICE seeks to eliminate the potential threat of terrorist acts against the United States.

3. Staff data
The ICE employs some 10,339 agents.

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Secret Service

1. General information
2. Functions and missions
3. Staff data
4. Education / Training

1. General information
The Secret Service operates under the Department of Homeland Security.

2. Functions and missions
The United States Secret Service is mandated by statute and executive order to carry out two significant missions: protection and criminal investigations. The Secret Service protects the President and Vice President, their families, heads of state, and other designated individuals; investigates threats against these protectees; protects the White House, Vice President’s Residence, Foreign Missions, and other buildings within Washington, D.C.; and plans and implements security designs for designated National Special Security Events.

The Secret Service also investigates violations of laws relating to counterfeiting of obligations and securities of the United States; financial crimes that include, but are not limited to, access device fraud, financial institution fraud, identity theft, computer fraud; and computer-based attacks on our nation’s financial, banking, and telecommunications infrastructure.

3. Staff data
The Secret Service employs approximately 2,100 special agents, 1,200 Uniformed Division officers, and approximately 1,700 other technical, professional, and administrative support personnel.

4. Education / Training
New agent trainees are initially sent to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Glynco, Georgia, where they are enrolled in the Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP). This 9-week course, designed to train new federal investigators in such areas as criminal law and investigative techniques, provides a general foundation for the agency-specific training to follow.

Upon successful completion of CITP, new agent trainees attend the 11-week Special Agent Training Course at the Secret Service Training Academy, Beltsville, Maryland. This course focuses on specific Secret Service policies and procedures associated with the dual responsibilities of investigations and protection. Trainees are provided with basic knowledge and advanced application training in combating counterfeiting, access device fraud and other financial criminal activity, protective intelligence investigations, physical protection techniques, protective advances and emergency medicine. The core curriculum is augmented with extensive firearms training, control tactics, water survival skills and physical fitness. Additionally, Secret Service agents receive continuous advanced training throughout their careers and are regularly provided with specialized training.

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Criminal Justice System

1. General information
2. Structure and organization
3. Prosecution

1. General information
There is no single criminal justice system in the U.S.  Criminal cases may be handled differently in various jurisdictions, but court decisions based on the due process guarantees of the U.S. Constitution require that specific steps be taken in the administration of criminal justice so that the individual will be protected from undue intervention from the State.

2. Structure and organization
The U.S. judicial system is hierarchical both at the federal and state level. The highest court in the United States, and the only one required by the Constitution, is the United States Supreme Court, with its decisions being final.

3. Prosecution
After an arrest, law enforcement agencies present information about the case and the accused to the prosecutor, who will decide if formal charges will be filed with the court. If no charges are filed, the accused must be released. The prosecutor can also drop charges after making efforts to prosecute.

When decision to prosecute is taken, the accused is scheduled for arraignment. At the arraignment, the accused is informed of the charges, advised of the rights of criminal defendants, and asked to enter a plea to the charges. To view a chart of the Criminal Justice System, please visit the Attachment section.

Attachments

  US Criminal Justice System [English] (33.97 Kb) US Criminal Justice System [English] (Format: ) http://polis.osce.org/countries/view?item_id=69&attach_id=158
Chart
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Links

U.S. Department of Justice  U.S. Department of Justice http://www.usdoj.gov/
Official website of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Department of Homeland Security - United States  Department of Homeland Security - United States http://www.dhs.gov
Official website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Federal Bureau of Investigation - United States  Federal Bureau of Investigation - United States http://www.fbi.gov/
Official website of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Drug Enforcement Administration - United States  Drug Enforcement Administration - United States http://www.dea.gov/
Official website of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection  U.S. Customs and Border Protection http://www.cbp.gov/
Official website of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement http://www.ice.gov/
Official website of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

United States Secret Service  United States Secret Service http://www.secretservice.gov/
Official website of the United States Secret Service.

OSCE/ ODIHR Legislationline - United States of America  OSCE/ ODIHR Legislationline - United States of America http://www.legislationline.org/topics/country/54/topic/12
Legislationline is a gratis internet-based legislative database published and maintained by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

Last Updated: 9 March 2007

Also see: Canada