The recent uproar over armed EPA agents descending on a tiny Alaska mining town is shedding light on the fact that 40 federal agencies – including nearly a dozen typically not associated with law enforcement — have armed divisions. No arrests were made in the sweep of every person in the town, and all of their properties, including their mining claims.
Though most Americans know agents within the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Prisons carry guns, agencies such as the Library of Congress and Federal Reserve Board employing armed officers might come as a surprise.
In addition to the EPA, other federal agencies participating in the operation were the FBI, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and the Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Park Service.
Federal Agencies employ over 120,000 full-time officers authorized to carry guns and make arrests, according to a June 2012 Justice Department report.
The FBI, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Park Service are among 24 federal agencies employing more the most full-time armed officers with arrest authority, according the federal report, which is based on the 2008 Census of Federal Law Enforcement Officers.
Some of the other 16 agencies have that officers and include NOAA as well as the Library of Congress, the Federal Reserve Board, the Department of Education and the National Institutes of Health.