Do State or Federal Law Enforcement Officers Respond?

If the crime represents a violation of a state law, then the local police respond. We saw this in the James Holmes theater shooting case. The shootings took place in Aurora, Colorado, and local police officers from the Aurora Police Department responded and took jurisdiction of the case. However, the FBI later took charge of the investigation and the Aurora Police Department and the FBI worked together to gather evidence.

On the other hand, if the crime is a violation of a federal law, then— as we saw in the Madoff crime and in the Sheldon Silver case—the federal government responds to the crime.

Joint state and federal investigations can eventually lead to task forces being formed with the purpose of combining the investigative resources of both agencies as they work to solve pattern-related crimes. A case in point is the upstate New York retail store service desk armed robberies of 2013. As a result of more than 10 daytime armed robberies from the service desk areas of a national retail store chain, the Hobbs Act Task Force was formed in New York that year.

Investigators from local police agencies teamed with members of the FBI for the purpose of working as a task force responding to— and investigating—armed robberies that were identified to be pattern crimes. Pattern crime refers to a series of crimes that follows a certain pattern. The task force collectively worked on “solvability factors” (key elements necessary for the successful completion of a criminal investigation; usually include such factors as eye witnesses, identification of a suspect, and address of the primary suspect) and investigative leads that were developed by the task force members and the crime analyst assigned to the team.

The Hobbs Act Task Force worked to enforce a U.S. federal law named after Congressman Sam Hobbs. The Hobbs Act was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1946 to “prohibit actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce” (Office of the United States Attorneys, 2015, p. 1). The Hobbs Act specifies that when a robbery occurs at a location that deals with interstate commerce, then the charges levied against the perpetrator, once apprehended, increases the mandatory minimum federal sentence if he or she is found guilty.

In this case investigation, the crime analyst participated in task force briefings and was involved in data collection and storage, suspect and pattern identification and research, and crime mapping, as well as the issuing of all bulletins associated with the pattern crimes.

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