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Adventures in Law Enforcement 2000

Police work is much more than fast cars and top guns. When it comes to many “non-traditional” policing jobs, highly specialized training is key.

March 01, 2000  |  by Rebecca Stone

Child Abuse Connection

Everyone these days seems to be in agreement that there is a direct relationship between animal abuse and child abuse as well as other acts of violence.

MacDonald said that humane investigators engage in cross reporting with child welfare and domestic violence agencies.  "Investigating complaints regarding animals is our specific duty-that's what we're there for, but we also look around for other things-signs of child neglect or abuse."  He said child abuse investigators also tip them off if they see signs of animal abuse.

Gillingham agreed with others about the child abuse/domestic violence link: "It goes hand in hand.  Thousands of people sitting in prison today for committing violent crimes will tell you that they started by abusing animals."

Said Garcia, "What law enforcement is now recognizing is that we deal with the same individuals that commit violent acts later on.  We may be able to identify those violent individuals or offenders before it escalates."


Future success for this profession lies in dedicated investigators who can provide not only education but enforcement.

"This field is wide open," said Gillingham.  "Lots of opportunities for people to go into this."

Garcia certainly seems to have found his niche.  "This is probably one of the most rewarding things I've ever done in my life," he said.  "It's more than just a job, rescuing animals from horrifying situations, nursing them back to health and placing them in new, loving homes."

MacDonald is also passionate about his work, which can at times seem daunting.  "If I can just make a dent..." he told POLICE.  "If we can just grab five out of 10 abusers, I'm the happiest guy in the world."

For more information:

The Law Enforcement Training Institute, University of Missouri, Columbia:

ASPCA: www. or call (212) 876-7700

United States Coast Guard Law Enforcement

Seagoing criminals won't be forced to walk the plank but they should be plenty worried when they see a United States Coast Guard vessel off their stern.

Generally considered to be the country's premier maritime law enforcement agency, the Coast Guard employs active duty commissioned, warrant and petty officers, known as "Coasties" in some circles, to "enforce federal law of waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction and international waters, as well as on all vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction (including U.S., foreign and stateless vessels)."

Law enforcement responsibilities cited by the Coast Guard are numerous and varied.

Drug Interdiction

The Coast Guard said that it grew out of an 18th century smuggling problem.  Americans had developed a tradition of smuggling to avoid being taxed by the British.  And the tradition simply continued, from Chinese opium smugglers of the 1800s to the rum runners of the Prohibition era to the gun runners of the Vietnam era to the sophisticated modern operations of today that smuggle huge quantities of cocaine.

Coordinating with federal agencies and other countries, mainly in drug interdiction, the Coast Guard oversees a jurisdiction called the Transit Zone, a 6 million-square-mile area encompassing the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Pacific.  The Coast Guard's actions on the high seas account for approximately 25 percent of U.S. cocaine and marijuana seizures every year.  In 1997 alone, the Coast Guard netted about $4 billion (street value) worth of cocaine.

Living Marine Resources

The Coast Guard enforces fishing laws at sea and protects the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (3.3 million miles of ocean and 90,000 miles of coastline) from foreign encroachment.  It also enforces domestic fishing laws, laws protecting marine mammals and endangered species and international fishing agreements, including enforcing laws prohibiting drift net fishing.

Alien Migrant Interdiction

In 1981, according to the USCG, after the bodies of 30 Haitian migrants washed ashore in Florida, President Reagan suspended entry by sea of undocumented aliens to the U.S. High seas migrant interdiction then became a fact of life.

Illegal immigration can cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars in social services each year.  The Coast Guard is charged with catching illegal aliens, often in fact rescuing them from unseaworthy boats, at sea, before they set foot on U.S. soil.

Structure and Organization

"The Coast Guard is unique in that it's the only U.S. military service with law enforcement authority," Lt. Greg Magee, of the USCG Office of Law Enforcement, Migrant Interdiction Division, told POLICE.  Magee, who came to the Coast Guard with a background in sanctions enforcement for the Navy, in the Persian Gulf, explained that while the Coast Guard normally functions as a part of the Department of Transportation, in times of war it can be placed under the direction of the Navy.

Currently Magee said there are 35,000 enlisted and officer personnel, 7,600 reservists, 6,000 civilians and 35,000 volunteers who make up the Coast Guard.

"The basic element of the Coast Guard's law enforcement program is the boarding team," said Magee.  "Led by a boarding officer, these groups are made up of crew members from Coast Guard cutters and small boat stations that deploy from their vessels at sea.  The boarding teams return to their primary assigned duties when they are not conducting a boarding."  Magee said that during 1999, the Coast Guard conducted more than 55,000 boarding at sea.


Established in 1977, the Maritime Law Enforcement Training School draw more than 550 students from around the country and foreign governments each year, according to the Coast Guard.

"The Coast Guard has a two-week boarding team member course in Petaluma, Calif.," said Magee.  "Coast Guard personnel are taught defensive tactics and techniques, use of force, authority and jurisdiction, identification of possible violations of U.S. law, personal searches, initial safety inspections and boarding procedures."

Magee said that in addition, a five-week boarding officer course (BOC), which takes place in Yorktown, Va., concentrates on enforcement of laws and treaties at sea.

After passing a series of tests, students graduate as instructors and are prepared to train their unit personnel in law enforcement procedures.

Coast Guard Investigative Service

Comprising civilian agents and military personnel, this branch of the Coast Guard provides investigative assistance to the Coast Guard.  According to Magee, the CGIS is responsible for "Internal Affairs investigations, personal security services, background investigations and supporting the Coast Guard investigations of violations of federal law in the maritime realm."


Coast Guard law enforcers face unique challenges.  Said Magee, "Many criminals have no regard for the dangers of the sea and often take great risks when attempting to violate U.S. law.  The difficulty of our law enforcement boardings offshore can further compounded by hazardous situations aboard these vessels which make inspections or apprehensions more difficult than when ashore.  "Strong seamanship skills are as essential as law enforcement skills during boardings," said Magee.  He also cited 'Boating While Intoxicated' as a serious problem facing boarding teams.

Magee said that Coast Guard personnel are faced with an ever-increasing workload and because the law enforcement mission is so varied, it requires an immense amount of training and expertise.  But it is this diversity that keeps Magee satisfied.  "A lot of our missions have a humanitarian aspect," he said, adding, "Migrant interdiction often starts out as a search and rescue mission."

For more information, check out the Coast Guard website at

United States Marshals Service

Established in 1789, the United States Marshals Service is the nation's oldest federal law enforcement agency.  Currently under the directorship of John W. Marshall, 95 district officers are each headed by a U.S. Marshal, throughout the country as well as Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.  About 4,000 deputy marshals and other employees perform a wide range of duties.

For Art Roderick, chief investigative operations, in Washington D.C., one of the best things about the job is the versatility.  "It's not one mission but several," said Roderick.  "When you come in as a young deputy, one day you could be sitting in court and the next you could by doing witness protection, execution of a fugitive warrant, and the next, traveling to Europe to pick up a wanted person on an extradition case."

He said deputies can specialize in any number of functions, but added, "You have to pay your dues."

Roderick told POLICE that it is not uncommon for new deputies to come into the job, only to become disillusioned in the first couple of years, particularly in the large districts where they might feel stuck in the courtroom.  Said Roderick, "In some offices, especially the larger ones, you have to do your time in the box.  But I learned a lot about testifying in court.  You can learn a lot if you're willing to listen and learn."

Marshals Service Court Security Program

According to the U.S. Marshals Service, over the last several years threats to officials of the court have been on the increase.  As many as 300 threats per year result in 24-hour protection for members of the court.

"Our main mission is to protect the courts," Roderick told POLICE.  "But to go along with that, we have to get prisoners to court.  We also have to do the fugitive work."

Fugitive Investigations

One of the other aspects of the USMS is fugitive investigations, a USMS mission that has been bathed in its share of glamour recently with the release of the movies, The Fugitive and U.S. Marshals, both starring Tommy Lee Jones.

"The first Jones movie-we do a lot of what was done in the movie, but usually not all in one case," laughed Roderick.  "But it was a good representation of a warrant squad working in a major city."

Roderick came to the Marshals Service interested strictly in fugitive work.  Said the former police officer, "One thing I've learned is if you want to do a job in the Marshals Service, you've got to put your sights on that job and put in the extra work to head in that direction."

"I liked investigation, serving warrants to find out where somebody was.  It's kind of like the game of hide and seek-but a bit more dangerous.  The stakes are higher.  They know you're coming for them."

Working with other agencies in cooperative tasks, domestic investigations have been accelerated.  According to the USMS, Deputy U.S. Marshals work together as equal partners with representatives from other agencies, sharing intelligence.

The task forces have been so successful that permanent task forces have been set up in more than 150 communities.  Annual apprehensions by the Marshals Service are figured to be about 30,000 fugitives felons.

In addition to chasing down fugitives, many wanted for violent crimes and drug trafficking here in the U.S., the Marshals Service also tracks fugitives to the ends of the earth.  With representatives at Interpol Headquarters in Lyons, France, and Washington D.C., the service is the principle American agency responsible for fugitive extradition both from foreign countries and from the United States.

Other aspects of the Fugitive Investigations arm of the USMS include the Electronic Surveillance Unit and the Analytical Support Unit.

Prisoner Custody and Transport

The USMS said that is has contracts with nearly 1,200 state and local governments to rent space for federal prisoners.  USMS figures indicate that more than 27,000 detainees in Marshals Service custody reside in the nation's federal and state prisons and local jails.

Deputy Marshals are also responsible for transport of federal prisoners.  According to the USMS, Deputy Marshals move more than 200,000 prisoners and aliens each year on an average.  JPATS, the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System, is operated by the USMS.  Security abroad one of these airliners filled with prisoners is tight.  Prisoners are handcuffed, leg-ironed and heavily guarded.

Sometimes, the USMS will transport prisoners for state and local agencies, depending on space available.  For agencies seeking cost-effective extradition of a prisoner, the JPATS can be the answer to their prayers.

Witness Security

When those testifying against others in court become potential targets for harm, the USMS is there to offer protection.

According to the Marshal Service, since 1970, more than 6,800 witnesses have been protected, relocated and given new identities through the witness protection program.  The program has been deemed particularly valuable in fighting criminal conspiracies and organized crime.

Asset Seizure and Forfeiture

Most seized property in the custody of the USMS comes from drug traffickers, money launderers, fraud and organized crime.

The Marshals Service works in conjunction with other federal agencies to assist local and international law enforcement agencies with asset forfeiture investigations.  The USMS has distributed more than $1.9 million of these monies to domestic law enforcement agencies and foreign governments.

Special Operations and Programs

Special missions carried out by the USMS include the Special Operations Group (SOG), a tactical unit designed to respond to emergencies throughout the country.  The unit also responds to fugitive apprehensions, dignitary protection, court security, high-profile and dangerous prisoner transport, witness security and asset seizures.

The Missile Escort Program is designed to provide assistance to the Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force when nuclear warheads are transferred between military facilities.

Judgment Enforcement Teams, otherwise known as JET investigate and enforce judgments against those owing debts to the government.  According to USMS, the JET program received the International Association of Chiefs of Police's 1994 Webber Seavey Award for a "successful initiative to maximize the collection of debt owed to the federal government.

Of the array of mission choices in the USMS, Roderick said, "It's what you're looking for out of the job.  A lot of it is experience.  You can't just walk in the door, pick up a fugitive file and go out and arrest somebody."

He said that each area of the country handles cases a little differently so no job can be handled in exactly the same fashion.  "It can be a dangerous job.  You have to have academy training.  It teaches you the right way.  But you have to balance academy training with reality."

Roderick said deputies must hone their skills to the specific area they're in.  "Tracking fugitives in Washington, D.C., is different than tracking in the Mid-West," he explained.

According to Roderick, Deputy Marshals come from a variety of backgrounds.  But no matter who becomes a member of the USMS, one thing seems certain: technology has become increasingly important, as it has in other fields of law enforcement.

Said Roderick, "Possibly due to technological developments, the job is more high speed.  We've had to become high speed because the crimes are."

For more information on the United Sates Marshals Service, visit

As POLICE went to press, Alaska Airlines flight 261 went down with 88 passengers and crew in more than 700 feet of water off the Southern California coast.

Working with local law enforcement, the Navy and others, and under the command of Vice Admiral Thomas Collins, more than 300 U.S. Coast Guard men and women came to Port Hueneme, Calif., to direct search and rescue efforts in the choppy water.

At this writing, three victims, including one infant, had been recovered amidst floating debris, which, by one account, included toys and stuffed animals.

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