FPS's work focuses directly on the interior security of the nation and the reduction of crimes and potential threats to federal facilities throughout the nation. Uniformed FPS officers/inspectors and special agents respond to calls for assistance, conduct investigations and provide crime prevention tips, as well as assist in occupant emergency planning.
All federal facilities under FPS control receive a thorough building security assessment on a recurring schedule. During this assessment representatives of all agencies in the facility are interviewed to gather information on the specific mission they perform within the facility, and intelligence and crime statistics for the area are reviewed, as are existing security countermeasures. Based on the findings and working with the agencies housed in the facility, security countermeasures are added or adjusted. This allows for tailored security for each individual facility versus a one-size-fits-all approach.
FPS services include:
Providing police emergency and special security services during National Security Special Events, natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and major civil disturbances-as well as during man-made disasters, such as bomb explosions and riots.
A series of embarrassing incidents on federal property across the country -- including the theft of a trailer of surveillance equipment from an FBI parking deck -- is being blamed on budget cuts at the agency told the chairman Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton on March 14 2008. The service has seen its budget and staff cut since it became a part of the Department of Homeland Security in March 2003.
The origins of FPS date to 1790, with the enactment of legislation authorizing President George Washington to appoint three commissioners to establish a federal territory for a permanent seat of Federal Government. Prior to the formal establishment of the seat of government, the commissioners hired six night watchmen to protect the designated buildings the government was intended to occupy. FPS traces its origins to the appointment of these six night watchmen.
FPS has resided in a number of different agencies over the years. The Act of June 1, 1948 authorized the Federal Administrator to appoint special policemen for duty in connection with the policing of all buildings owned and occupied by the United States. In 1949, Congress enacted the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, which consolidated real property functions within the newly created General Services Administration (GSA). The FPS force, known at the time as the United States Special Police, came under the supervision of the Protection Division of the Public Building Service (PBS). In 1971, the Administrator of GSA signed an order formally establishing the Federal Protective Force, later known as FPS, and the Civil Service Commission authorized the special classification title of Federal Protective Officer (FPO).
Initially, the main function of FPS was protection, as an integral part of building operations. For the most part, the force held fixed posts and performed duties that would be considered safety functions today, such as: eliminating fire and safety hazards, patrolling buildings, detecting fires, and providing the first line of defense in fighting fires; and answering visitor questions, assisting citizens, rendering first aid, and directing traffic when necessary. By 1960, the mission of FPS became the first line of defense against bomb threats, bombings, vandalism, mass demonstrations, and violence against Federal buildings. More recently, the role of the FPS officer has undergone further changes. The FPS has shifted its emphasis from the fixed guard post concept of security to a mobile police patrol and response. FPS contracts private security companies to guard fixed posts. FPS officers perform all duties attendant to the normal interpretation of a police officer function including maintaining law and order, preventing or deterring disturbances, and investigating both felonies and misdemeanors. The Civil Service Commission developed standards for FPS applicants, which included background investigations, and physical examinations. Pursuant to the Homeland Security Act of 2002, FPS was transferred to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and retained its responsibilities for protecting the buildings, grounds, and property owned, occupied, or secured by the federal government under GSA's jurisdiction. In addition to GSA facilities, the Act also provides FPS with the authority to protect properties held by DHS components that were not under GSA jurisdiction. FPS was moved from GSA, Public Building Services, to DHS, effective March 1, 2003. Within DHS, FPS became a part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Today, FPS is responsible for policing, securing, and ensuring a safe environment in which federal agencies can conduct business by reducing threats posed against approximately 9,000 Federal government facilities throughout the United States.
40 USC 1315: The Secretary may designate employees of the Department of Homeland Security, including employees transferred to the Department from the Office of the Federal Protective Service of the General Services Administration pursuant to the Homeland Security Act of 2002, as officers and agents for duty in connection with the protection of property owned or occupied by the Federal Government and persons on the property, including duty in areas outside the property to the extent necessary to protect the property and persons on the property.
Powers. - While engaged in the performance of official duties, an officer or agent designated under this subsection may -
(A) enforce Federal laws and regulations for the protection of persons and property;
(B) carry firearms;
(C) make arrests without a warrant for any offense against the United States committed in the presence of the officer or agent or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if the officer or agent has reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing a felony;
(D) serve warrants and subpoenas issued under the authority of the United States;
(E) conduct investigations, on and off the property in question, of offenses that may have been committed against property owned or occupied by the Federal Government or persons on the property; and
(F) carry out such other activities for the promotion of homeland security as the Secretary may prescribe.
The program integrates the following aspects of the FPS mission: the initial patrol response by FPS uniformed police officers; full investigation by FPS special agents; prosecution by the U.S. Attorney's Office or State Prosecutor's Office; physical security enhancements and countermeasures; security briefings and workplace violence seminars administered by FPS law enforcement personnel; suspicious surveillance detection initiatives designed to detect pre-incident indicators of threats to federal employees, facilities and protectees; a monthly Operations Security Bulletin; and protection details for high-ranking officials within DHS. FPS Headquarters developed a Memorandum of Understanding, in collaboration with the U.S. Capitol Police, enabling the two entities to use each other's resources to effectively, efficiently and professionally respond to and investigate threats and inappropriate communications directed at members of Congress, their families and staff when outside the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan area.
FPS collaborates with other components within ICE and has established liaisons with agencies having a protective and investigative mission such as the U.S. Secret Service—National Threat Assessment Center, the Social Security Administration (SSA), the U.S. Marshals Service, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and various state and local police agencies throughout the country.
FPS special agents have made arrests and conducted investigations of subjects charged with making inappropriate communications and threats to members of the U.S. Congress (House and Senate) and/or their staff, the director of Federal Emergency Management Agency, FPS Director, members of the military reserve, SSA, the Department of Veteran Affairs and other federal employees. Many of these investigations resulted in convictions for making threats to do physical harm and threats to bomb federal facilities. FPS special agents investigated threats delivered in person, via telephone, e-mail and U.S. Postal Service mail.
FPS special agents also oversee an outreach program designed to educate the community and tenant agencies and provide them with a point of contact to report suspicious behavior and incidents that threaten FPS protectees, facilities, and/or visitors.
The EDD Teams conduct routine explosive searches of office areas, vehicles, materials, packages and persons housed in federally owned or leased facilities. The EDD Teams respond to bomb threats and suspicious packages or items and are used to assist in clearing identified areas.
The EDD Teams are on call 24-hours a day and serve a crucial role as part of a greater network of first responders in a growing national network of federal task force officers.
HRP includes initial investigations of suspicious or threatening CBRNE incidents; conduction of CBRNE threat assessments; confirmations of unauthorized presence of CBRNE agents and materials; and the conduction of emergency operations. HRP also provides: evacuation support during CBRNE incidents; CBRNE mutual aid response through agreement; and training assistance. The program is compliant with OSHA and NFPA guidance and regulations.
The centers are fully redundant—if there is a partial or catastrophic failure at one center, all operations can be remotely switched and monitored at a "peer" location without disruption to field service.
On April 30, of the year it was conceived, the Code Adam Act of 2003 became a law. The act is named in the memory of six-year-old Adam Walsh, whose abduction from a Florida shopping mall and murder in 1981 helped to bring child abduction to national attention.
The Code Adam Alert requires that the designated authority for a public building establish procedures for a child missing in a federal facility. On November 1 of 2003, the Department of Homeland Security Federal Protective Service (FPS) implemented a policy nationwide, establishing procedures for locating a missing child in federal facilities. The General Services Administration administers the program in both owned and leased federal facilities. Topics include home and family security, how to avoid rape and sexual assault, theft in the workplace, and travel security.
Former FPS Administrator Wendell Shingler has allegedly refused to take any corrective action against similar incidents by FPS Police officer Louis Mount in Maryland.