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 Janies 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 with 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 ten 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—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; these 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. l).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, increase 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.

How Did Our Dual System of Policing Evolve?

When the first U.S. Congress met in 1789, it adopted a law called the U.S. Judiciary Act of 1789. This act established the U.S. federal judiciary. Along with the federal judiciary, the U.S. Marshals Service was also created by this act. This first law enforcement agency was formed to be the enforcement arm of the federal courts. However, since no other mention was made in the Constitution about law enforcement or the police, it was up to the new country to develop a system of policing.

Since America was colonized by the English, it is no surprise that early citizens of the fledgling country were people who were familiar with the systems previously developed in England.The major system developed in the new country was the constable watch system. The watch system employed in the cities and urban areas developed in the middle years of the nineteenth century.

The watch system as it developed in Englands towns and villages generally meant that men—usually ordinary citizens—would be responsible for patrolling the streets, watching for any kind of criminal activity. Constables, again, based on the system that had been used in England prior to the nineteenth century, were mostly supervisors of watchmen.

In America, Boston developed a watch system as early as 1634 (Bohm and Haley, 2002). Essentially, that was the predominant policing system in America for the succeeding 200 years. Citizens were expected to serve as the watch, but some of the citizens could afford to pay a watch replacement, and as a consequence, often the worst kind of men ended up protecting the community (Bohm and Haley, 2002).

Much later, particularly in rural and southern areas of the United States, the office of sheriff was established and the power of the posse was used to maintain order and apprehend offenders (Bohm and Haley, 2002).This meant that two forms of law enforcement (in addition to the U.S. Marshals, who helped bring law and order to the western frontier) began to evolve. There was the watch in villages, towns, and cities, and the sheriff in rural areas and counties. Some areas in the northern parts of the United States often had both systems.

Although England organized its London Metropolitan Police in 1829, America didn’t imitate the English model for several years.The first American police department in the north was created in Boston in 1838 (Dempsey and Forst, 2010). It was in the 1840s that New York City combined its day watch and night watch to form the first paid, unified police force (Bohm and Haley, 2002).Then, in 1853, the New York state legislature created the Municipal Police Department. However, it was found to be so corrupt that it was abolished by the legislature four years later (Bohm and Haley, 2002).The legislature replaced it with the Metropolitan Police. Other big-city police departments were created later on in the 1850s and 1860s. For instance, Philadelphia combined its day and night watches in 1854 to bring about its own police department.

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