Criminology Essays - Federal Bureau Investigation

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Federal Bureau Investigation

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, also known as the F.B.I., was originally started by the conversations between the president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, and Attorney General Charles J. Bonaparte. Charles J. Bonaparte was not granted full control of investigations until Congress passed a law preventing the Department of Justice from engaging Secret Service operatives on May 27, 1908.

The Bureau began on July 26, 1908 when the first investigation under Chief Examiner Stanley W. Finch took place. Bonaparte appointed Finch to his position as Chief Examiner and organized the first investigation. The organization was named The Bureau of Investigation on March 16, 1909 by Attorney General George Wickersham (

The Bureau of Investigation had very limited jurisdiction to start, only investigating simple crimes that did not involve much authorization. They were not authorized to make arrests or carry handguns until much later. Congress expanded some of their powers through the White Slave Traffic Act (Mann Act) of 1910 and the Motor Vehicle Theft Act (Dyer Act) of 1919 (Encarta.msn).

On May 10, 1924, John Edgar Hoover was elected the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ( Hoover set the standards for the FBI and ran his term until he died on May 2, 1972 ( During his term he was the cause of many scandals and illegal actions that the FBI was accused for. Hoover began by making major reforms and ultimately cleaning house. He fired multiple employees and filled their places with people he personally viewed as qualified for the positions (Encarta.msn).

The start of World War II fueled President Theodore Roosevelt to use the FBI more frequently. This ultimately gave them more authority to investigate grave matters in order to protect the United States from harm. During World War II the agents for the FBI tracked suspected spies, investigated sabotage, pursued draft violators, and pursued military deserters. The Smith Act of 1940 was vital to the investigations and arrests of violent groups and spies during the Cold War. The act outlawed the advocacy of the violent overthrow of the American Government. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were arrested as a result of the Smith Act in 1950 and their arrest was recorded to be one of the biggest arrests conducted by the FBI (Encarta.msn).

In 1956, Hoover began a counterintelligence program called COINTELPRO. The program was supposed to target groups such as the Communist Party that were a threat to society. Instead, Hoover took advantage of his new power and involved the Bureau in many illegal actions that were not authorized by the Justice Department and gave false data to the media to cover their actions.

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Hoover became over-confident in his powers and began using employees for his everyday needs and comforts. He also investigated top officials in Government and used the information gathered as blackmail to get what he wanted. Through all the chaos, fraud, and forgery the Bureau still managed to investigate and find James Earl Ray as the murderer of Martin Luther King Jr. (Encarta.msn). Hoover died on May 2, 1972 after 48 years as the director of the FBI (

In 1968, congress called for a limit on the term years of the director to 10 years. In 1935, the prohibition agents and the bureau of investigation agents merged and the organization became know as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (

In 1973 and 1974, the FBI investigated the Watergate scandal under the director of the bureau, L. Patrick Gray, who was appointed to the position by President Richard Nixon. Republican officials had hired agents to take pictures and record documents in the democratic building. Once word got out that the republicans ordered the break in, the White house tried to cover itself. L. Patrick Gray turned himself in to the authorities admitting he had destroyed evidence of the break-in and resigned from his position April 27, 1973.

The Watergate Scandal eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon from office. After the resignation of L. Patrick Gray, he was replaced by W. Mark Felt. Felt was prosecuted for his connections with the Weathermen terrorist group and also resigned from the position. Finally, the Senate had enough with all the corruptions within the FBI, and in 1975, appointed special committees to investigate all of the Intelligence agencies in the Justice Department (

In 1992, the FBI underwent a huge incident where FBI agent Lon Horiuchi was charged for the murder of Randy Weaver’s wife at a standoff at Ruby Ridge. Because of the mistake, the Justice Department granted Randy Weaver 3.1 million dollars and a release of all of the charges against him for major weapons. During the same year, a large standoff took place in Waco, Texas. The incident was also blamed on Horiuchi. The standoff at Waco resulted in 86 total deaths, including 24 children (

In January 1992, the FBI hired 300 new counterintelligence agents and began major reforms ( This largely improved programs in counterintelligence and counterterrorism. Through the 1980’s and 1990’s, the Congress granted the FBI many extended powers that allow them to conduct investigations with much needed ease and without major authorization (Encarta.msn).

The FBI is organized and run by the Director, who is nominated by the president of the United States, reports to the Attorney General, and has a limited term of up to 10 years in office. Within the FBI there are 56 field offices that are placed throughout the United States and all work together to handle worldwide issues of counterintelligence and counterterrorism. The Field offices control about 400 satellite offices that handle local issues within their jurisdiction. All satellite offices and field offices report to FBI headquarters which is located in Washington D.C. In addition to the offices within the United States, the FBI has 44 foreign liaison offices throughout the world that are commonly called legal attaché offices. To cover all of these offices there are about

28 000 employees that work for the FBI, 12 000 of which are special agents. The FBI is annually funded 3 billion dollars by Congress (Encarta.msn).

The FBI has many jurisdictions that it covers. They investigate federal civil rights violations and white collar crimes that could include bankruptcy or identity fraud. The FBI presents the information they discover in their investigations to federal prosecutors who decide, from the information given, whether the case should be reviewed in a federal court. Because the FBI is a security organization that works to protect citizens from harm, the agents and employees work together with local law enforcement. The biggest responsibility of the FBI today is the investigation of terrorism and espionage directed towards the United States to protect everyone in the United States from harm (Encarta.msn).

An FBI agent must be between the ages of 23 to 36 and must be in top physical condition. Every agent must be a United States citizen and have a valid driver’s license. The FBI only accepts agents if they have a degree from a four year college and pass a polygraph test. These qualifications are essential in hiring an agent to the bureau. The FBI also looks for specific experience when looking for their agents.

They are looking for people who are fluent in multiple languages, have accounting experience, and possibly with an engineering background. Computer and physical sciences are important factors to the FBI in the new age of technology. The FBI looks very highly on those who have any experience with the law or military service. Once hired, each FBI agent undergoes 17 weeks of intense physical and mental training to prepare the agent for its specific tasks (

The FBI agents are authorized to do many things today. All agents are authorized to arrest subjects without authorization or help from the local law enforcement. Each agent is allowed to carry weapons in order to protect themselves in dangerous situations. If the FBI believes that it is necessary and receives permission from the courts, they are permitted to eavesdrop on private phone calls and video tape a family’s actions within their home.

Agents are authorized to review private telephone bills, income tax returns, and study confidential documents. The can break traffic laws and bring weapons on a plane in order to investigate possible subjects or make an arrest (Encarta.msn). The salary of an FBI agent can range anywhere between $67,765 and $99,637 annually (

There are 13 divisions in the FBI. The first is the Administrative services division. This division overlooks all of the divisions and helps to organize them. The second Division is the Counterintelligence division. This division covers the investigations related to foreign intelligence and protects the country from espionage. This division is the reason for the capture of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The third division is the Counterterrorism Division. This division protects the nation from terrorists by foreseeing the actions of terrorists in advance by intense investigations. The September 11th attacks were handled by the counterterrorism division who apprehended the suspects involved in the attacks and continue to investigate the situation (

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The Criminal Investigative division, the fourth division, is responsible for investigating all crimes within the United States. These crimes could range from theft to murder, but are all thoroughly investigated by this division. Criminal Justice Information Services division (the fifth division) stores and keeps up to date records on all major criminal cases. They create statistics on different types of crimes and present the rates of these crimes over the United States annually, such as the rate of hate crimes per year in the United States. The Cyber Crime Division (the sixth division) overlooks the investigations of technological crimes. They investigate the intrusion of any network or organization that could be a threat to society or to the nation. They investigate cases of sexual predators and apprehend them to keep the nation’s children safe. This division also protects all system records that are recorded from any foreign intelligence (

The Finance division (seventh division) controls all of the finances coming in and going out of the FBI. The division distributes the pay for all the employees. When the FBI needs to purchase something it must go through the finance division. Information Resources Division (eighth division) provides the resources necessary in undergoing specific investigations. The division finds out what it can and cannot use in different investigations. The Investigative Technologies Division (ninth division) provides agents of the bureau with the best technologies available for the investigation that is needed. The division keeps the FBI updated on new technologies and is always looking to upgrade on their present technologies. The Laboratory division (tenth division) is in charge of all forensic analysis of crimes. This division conducts tests to provide solid evidence for an investigation (

The Records Management division (eleventh division) is the safe keeper of all the FBI documents. The Division keeps on file all records of crimes, investigations, and any action conducted by the FBI. All the documents are kept and organized by this division. The Security Division (twelfth division) controls all the security within the United States. This division is in charge of keeping documents and information from being released and keeps everyone safe. The Training Division (thirteenth division) trains all of the employees of the FBI. This division provides trainers and staff to make the best agents for the FBI possible (

The FBI is always assisting law enforcement in any way it can. The FBI holds the largest collection of fingerprint records in the world at 74 million people. The police can contact the FBI to find the identification of a fingerprint to help them apprehend a suspect for a crime. The FBI also conducts police training for law enforcement (encarta.msn).

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has a long history behind it, starting almost 100 years ago. The agency has gone through rough times and lost respect as corrupt leaders ran the FBI down. As time went on, the FBI grew to gain a significant amount of success giving them the authority and the power they now have today. Each large moment in history hurt and helped the FBI by either loosing respect or teaching them how to handle situations in the future.

With today’s large amount of employees, the FBI has expanded itself in almost every aspect and has found new ways to organize themselves. There are 13 divisions in the FBI that are crucial to the success of the bureau. Each division is equally important and provides the FBI with a leading edge. The agents in the FBI are chosen very carefully by a list of qualifications and tests they must pass. Each agent undergoes a minimum of 17 weeks of intense training depending on the position of the agent and what he will be doing. The FBI has a major role in assisting the police and has always been a large contribution to the protection of the United States.