US Attorneys > USAM > Title 9 > Criminal Resource Manual 1629
prev | next | Criminal Resource Manual

1629

Protection of Government Property—Investigative Jurisdiction

Because a number of distinct agencies possess jurisdiction to investigate crimes against government property, it is impossible to provide any simple rules which in all cases define investigative responsibility. In some cases the jurisdiction of these competing agencies is set by statute. In other instances investigative authority is defined by a memorandum of understanding between the affected agencies. Of course, the principal law enforcement agency in this area is the Federal Bureau of Investigation. By statute and by regulation the FBI has broad jurisdiction over offenses involving government property. See 28 U.S.C. § 533; 28 C.F.R. § 0.85. A number of other agencies, however, possess investigative jurisdiction over crimes involving specific federal properties. Some of the most significant of these agencies are described below:

  1. The Department of the Interior is authorized by 16 U.S.C. §§  1a-6 to designate certain officers "who shall maintain law and order and protect persons and property within the areas of the National Park System." These officers may make arrests, with and without warrants, conduct investigations and carry firearms. See 16 U.S.C. §§ 1a-6(l) to (3).

  2. The General Services Administration, as part of its statutory mandate to administer government properties, is authorized to appoint uniformed guards as "special policemen." See 40 U.S.C. § 318. These special policemen are empowered "to enforce the laws enacted for the protection of persons and property, . . . to prevent breaches of the peace, to suppress affrays or unlawful assemblies, and to enforce any rules and regulations made and promulgated by the Administrator (of General Services). . . ." See 40 U.S.C. § 318.

  3. The Inspector General Act of 1978, 5 U.S.C.App. § 1 et seq., creates within several government agencies independent Offices of Inspector General. See 5 U.S.C. App. § 2(1). The duties of these Inspectors General include the detection of fraud and abuse in government programs. See 5 U.S.C.App. § 2(2). Thus, the Act gives these Inspectors General investigative jurisdiction over some crimes involving government property. Under the Act, Inspectors General are required to report to the Attorney General any information which provides them with "reasonable grounds to believe that there has been a violation of federal criminal law." See 5 U.S.C.App. §  4(d).

  4. The United States Postal Service has jurisdiction to investigate postal offenses. See 39 U.S.C. § 404(a)(7). In practice, many crimes involving postal service property and personnel are investigated by law enforcement officers from the Postal Service.

  5. Finally, many crimes involving the theft or misuse of property belonging to the armed services will be investigated at the outset by military police or Defense Department investigators. A copy of the Memorandum of Understanding is in this Manual at 938. This is particularly true of offenses committed by military personnel.

[cited in USAM 9-66.010]