Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A suggestion for President Trump


I note with great pleasure President Trump's latest executive order, designed 'to find where within federal agencies the U.S. government can trim costs'.  The most important paragraph, to my mind, reads:

Within 180 days after the closing date for the submission of suggestions ... the Director shall submit to the President a proposed plan to reorganize the executive branch in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of agencies.  The proposed plan shall include, as appropriate, recommendations to eliminate unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs, and to merge functions.  The proposed plan shall include recommendations for any legislation or administrative measures necessary to achieve the proposed reorganization.

The rest of the text of the executive order may be found at the link.

Here's my suggestion.  Last time I counted, there were 73 (yes, seventy-three) Federal bureaux, agencies and organizations that had their own armed law enforcement departments or agents.  You can find a relatively comprehensive list of them here.  It's horrifying, IMHO.  Why do the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, or Amtrak, need their own armed officers?  Even worse, why have so many of these agencies established SWAT teams?

To my mind, five Federal agencies can make a strong case to have armed law enforcement agents.  They are:

I see no reason why any other department of the US government needs armed law enforcement officers.  If they occasionally develop such a need, surely they can be told to call upon one of the agencies named above to provide armed officers?

According to Wikipedia, 'In 2004, federal agencies employed approximately 105,000 full-time personnel authorized to make arrests and carry firearms in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.'  A 2008 Justice Department report indicated that there were approximately 120,000 federal law enforcement officers.  Today, if that sort of growth rate has continued since 2008, who knows how many there are?

I doubt very much whether that many Federal officers are actually needed.  I daresay we could get by with half to two-thirds that number, concentrated in the proper agencies, uniformly trained and equipped, and operating with far greater efficiency.  If President Trump is looking for a place to save money, I respectfully suggest that Federal law enforcement as a whole is long due for a shakeup and overhaul - and drastic pruning.

Peter

21 comments:

Snowdog said...

don't get rid of them-transfer them all to the border patrol.

lpdbw said...

FBI has no need for any armed agents. On those rare occasions where they need backup they can get it from local law enforcement, or if it is local law enforcement they are investigating, from the US Marshals.

They are, generally, overbearing egotistical egomaniacs who spread a certain amount of forcefulness and incompetence through the "justice" system, protected by their false aura of infallibility and their legacy from Eliot Ness. Disregarding Miss J.E. Hoover, the blackmailer, in the process.

Of course, the BATFEXYZ make them look like paragons of virtue by comparison, but let's not go there.

I think your half to two-thirds number is too high. Look to the Texas Rangers and the One Riot, One Ranger rule.

Elmdor said...

I'd add the Diplomatic Security Service in there since they actually protect diplomats at home and abroad, including coordinating security at embassies, consulates and missons - although they didn't used to be armed domestically as I understand it.

Unknown said...

I'd be OK with the Park Police and the Fish and Wildlife Service as well. But in general, yeah, get rid of them.

Anonymous said...

DEA?

Gerry

TheOtherSean said...

With respect to Amtrak having its own police, I have a couple of comments. Many (all?) large US railroads, freight and passenger, government and private, have their own police forces. Amtrak was created as a nominally private corporation (railroads even received stock in it when they "bought in" and transferred their intercity passenger service to it) so having Federal law enforcement and/or a multitude of local agencies provide that function would be problematic.

B said...

Fisheries. But *only* the agents who actually board boats. If they need backup, that is why we have Coast Guard and Navy.

Federal parks Police...Maybe. No SWAT team for them though. Let the locals help 'em, if and when.

Having a SWAT team is a sign that the agency is "important", or at least that is what it has become.

Jon said...

DEA and the Keystone Kops that make up BATFE should be taken over by FBI, with anyone who is not up to FBI Standards politely asked to retire early or get sent to Boder Patrol Duty.

Richard Douglas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard Douglas said...

Traditionally, the USMC has been tasked with security at US Embassies, missions, and consulates. They have an entire branch, called Marine Security Guards. Tell me again why we need the DSS?

Russell Newquist said...

I was also going to comment about the US Park Service. They effectively function as local police on national parks, which are US sovereign territory and in weird legal status as regards local law enforcement.

FotoTomas said...

I agree that they need to go by and large. I recently retired from one of them and still believe they would be better off with contract security. Even so they constantly bicker with each other and will be very hard to get rid of. They all want to protect their territory.

Judy said...

What I find interesting is he is asking for self reporting. How often does that work? Very rarely would be my answer...because everyone is going to find a way to justify their jobs.

As for the alphabet agencies and each having an armed division; I agree a severe pruning needs to be done. I don't see why the FBI needs arms, doesn't their very name say 'investigation' not 'thugs with guns'. US Marshals should be providing any heat that would be needed at the Federal level. Sadly, some Park Rangers do need to be armed for their own protection do to poachers and marijuana growers.

The Marines were doing just fine with providing security for embassies and such until the State Dept started calling the shots as to when they got support (Benghazi anyone)

Bruce said...

Overall I agree, though I would add fish & game and parks service - anybody that "goes out into the boonies" as part of their job, needs to do so armed. I DO NOT go unarmed myself - between the wildlife and other dangers, a firearm is necessary for these people. And yes, I know not all parks are in rural areas.

The USMC does not provide security details at ALL embassies and consulates. Additionally, DSS provides the "up close and personal" protection similar to the President's Secret Service detail. I may be wrong, but DSS generally has more "security powers" and fewer "arrest powers" per se.

0007 said...

Actually the Marine Security Guard at Embassies are tasked to protect access to the classified data not personnel at an embassy. The fact that protecting the data involves sometimes protecting the people just works out.
DSS in actually tasked to protect all visiting foreign heads of state to the US as well as the actual security of all embassies. And also all American officials below the office of the president and vice president when they are visiting overseas.
When we wanted to tweek the Secret Service boys, we used to point out that we(DSS) had never lost any of our Principals.

Anonymous said...

I think some of you may be missing Peter's point, which is that when those other agencies need law enforcement presence, they can request them from the other remaining federal law enforcement agencies. Or they can close down the existing agency and transfer those enforcement duties to the FBI or other remaining federal law enforcement agency. BATFE is a perfect example here.

Having their own sworn cops and SWAT teams sitting around under-employed makes them want to look for opportunities to use them. This is bad policy.

FormerFlyer

Javahead said...

And some of the justifiable bureaus are undermanned, or poorly structured for their task.

My son-on-law is in the Secret Service - very justifiable, but both shorthanded for the task to the extent that mandatory overtime nearly doubles their work week and structured to maximize the number of sergeant/lieutenant/caption positions rather than first-line duty.

He's mentioned that - unlike just about any other law enforcement agency - almost all their office work is done by sworn and trained law enforcement officers. As one of the guys who routinely has his days off canceled due to short staffing and mandatory overtime, he would really love to see this fixed - it would add several extra people per shift to the available manpower.

He loves his job - but says that the turnover on the job is extremely high due to the manpower issues.

Rob said...

You missed the US Coast Guard, normally (now) under Homeland security unless a national emergency and/or order or the President.

I miss going to a national park and seeing a "Mr Ranger" instead of someone with body armor & armed giving me the eye...

JohninMd.(HELP?!??) said...

As far as I can see, all Homeland did was increase the beuruocracy, and added more armed Feds. Not needed, IMO. We've fought-and WON- several wars without them. Get rid of inter-agency crap, and get the intel-weenies to cooperate, so as to avoid more 9-11 type scenarios. Prune that bush....HARD. It'll be a lot healthier...

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm.....so there are lots and lots of armed government agents in lots and lots of federal agencies.

Would not abolishing an agency also abolish all the jobs in that agency, including those of the unnecessary armed agents? The only contentious point would be singling out those armed agents among the employees to be discharged were such agencies merely reduced in size rather than abolished (and reduction rather than abolition is a "problem of insufficient courage" requiring the attention of the President, which I suspect he is quite capable of resolving satisfactorily).

As to sworn personnel performing tasks capable of being performed by non-sworn personnel, that's a routine, very common issue in any agency with sworn personnel. "You're not born until you're sworn" is the mantra by which sworn personnel self-elevate their status and create privilege. Look closely at any agency employing both sworn and non-sworn personnel and you'll find the non-sworn are, to put it mildly, treated as annoyances, and the higher-ups can easily order sworn personnel to perform tasks while having to follow state and federal employment law and regulations with those $%@# non-sworn b*****ds.

That, plus sworn personnel are on a leash - a computer programmer, chemist, mechanic or lab technician operating in a non-sworn position can easily decide to obtain employment elsewhere and leave; the sworn personnel doing so would give up the badge, gun and self-created status, something almost none are willing to do. They're Oh-So-Special, you see, and they absolutely hate not being the Alpha Dog, especially with issues about which they know little and have to depend on those, those.....civilians*.

Good luck changing that working environment.

* Yes, I know - everyone not in an oath-bound military position is a civilian.

sysadmn said...

I see no reason why any other department of the US government needs armed law enforcement officers.

I'd argue the Dept. of Defense can make a pretty good case. While legally the FBI has jurisdiction on federal properties, do you really want them running shore patrol?