Today

Today, DHS is the largest law enforcement agency within the federal government. Some law enforcement agencies within DHS are U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and Federal Protective Services (FPS). Though TSA as an agency is not a law enforcement agency, the U.S. Air Marshal Service and the K-9 Inspectors are assigned to TSA which adds their agency under the law enforcement umbrella.
ICE was initially part of two departments. The U.S. Customs Service that fell under Department of Treasury and The Immigration and Naturalization Service that fell under the DOJ prior to 9/11. While under U.S. Customs Service, the agency was known as the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Their mission was customs law enforcement at that time. The other department that fell under The Immigration and Naturalization Service mission was immigration law enforcement detention and removal, intelligence, and investigations. Post 9/11 the U.S. Customs Service and Immigration and Naturalization Service were unified as one office then broken into two agencies once it was brought in under DHS, CBP, and ICE. In response to the tragedy of 9/11, ICE was granted a unique combination of civil and criminal authority. Congress granted ICE these authorities in an attempt to better protect our nation’s national security and public safety. According to the Department of Homeland Security. (n.d.), ICE’s primary mission is to promote homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration (para. 2).
CBP was nationally recognized as the first comprehensive border security agency. Upon its separation from U.S. Customs Service, CBP’s focus became maintaining the country’s borders and ports of entry. With the establishment of CBP, the responsibility of security, compliance, and facilitation of international travel and trade were assigned to various different agencies that had other responsibilities outside of border security. Now the consolidation allows for one agency to develop policies and procedures in which can be enforced with the goal of ensuring compliance with our nation’s immigration laws, health, and international trade laws and regulations.
The Aviation and Transportation Act was signed into law that gave TSA screeners the authority to conduct 100 percent bag inspections at the airport. The act also allowed TSA to have a law enforcement section. Their law enforcement section consists of the Federal Air Marshal’s and K-9 Inspectors. The Federal Air Marshals mission is comprised of blending in on flights traveling from state to state and sometimes overseas to prevent another high jacking from occurring. The K-9 Inspectors duties are to screen large packages, airlines, and surrounding areas to prevent explosives from being placed in these locations.
FPS is the police department for the federal government. They are the Secretary of Homeland Security’s police department and their mission is the safety and security of all federal facilities, federal employees, and visitors. FPS originated under the General Services Administration (GSA) and was scheduled to be disbanded in 1995. In April of 1995, a domestic terrorist by the name of Timothy McVeigh bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City. Due to this tragedy, the federal government realized that FPS had more value than originally thought. Upon the enactment of HSA 2002, FPS was removed from GSA and placed under ICE until 2009. Due to the FPS mission, which involved infrastructure DHS felt it best that they fall under the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD). Once of NPPD’s mission is infrastructure so DHS felt this move was a perfect fit. FPS remains under NPPD to this current day.
There is no one significant event historically that established America’s move into creating today’s law enforcement agencies or state and local departments. Nevertheless, through historical events, legislation, and amendments to the constitution, we can trace the formation of them back to their origins. Though various agencies have changed over time, the need for application of the law has not. Today’s modern agencies and departments help federal and local governments put the law into action as well as protect, serve, and at times serve as a mediator to de-escalate disputes within the communities. These fundamental needs continue to serve as the foundation and baseline of today’s law enforcement in the United States.

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