The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is one of the most well-known and respected law enforcement agencies in the world. But what exactly does the FBI do, and how did it become what it is today? In this article, we will explore some of the history, functions, and facts of the FBI, and learn how it works to protect the United States and its citizens from various threats.
The History of the FBI
The FBI was founded in 1908 as the Bureau of Investigation (BOI) by Attorney General Charles Bonaparte, who wanted to create a professional and independent investigative force within the Department of Justice. The BOI initially had only 34 agents, who were mostly lawyers and accountants. They were tasked with investigating crimes such as antitrust violations, land fraud, and peonage (a form of involuntary servitude).
In 1910, the BOI gained the authority to arrest suspects and carry firearms, and in 1919, it was renamed the Bureau of Investigation (BI). During the 1920s, the BI expanded its jurisdiction and responsibilities, and began to deal with cases involving bank robbery, kidnapping, and organized crime. The BI also established a fingerprint identification system, a crime laboratory, and a training academy.
In 1935, the BI was officially named the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The FBI continued to grow and evolve, and became involved in some of the most famous and notorious cases in American history, such as the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, the Dillinger gang, the Barker-Karpis gang, and the espionage of the Rosenbergs.
During World War II, the FBI focused on counterintelligence and counterespionage, and also investigated sabotage, subversion, and war crimes. After the war, the FBI faced new challenges and threats, such as the Cold War, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the rise of terrorism. The FBI also underwent some internal changes and reforms, especially after the death of its long-time director, J. Edgar Hoover, in 1972.
In the 21st century, the FBI has adapted to the changing world and the emerging technologies, and has enhanced its capabilities and partnerships to combat cybercrime, international terrorism, white-collar crime, public corruption, civil rights violations, and other major crimes. The FBI is also a full member of the U.S. Intelligence Community, and works closely with other federal, state, local, tribal, and foreign agencies to share information and resources.
The Functions of the FBI
The FBI is an intelligence-driven and threat-focused national security organization with both intelligence and law enforcement responsibilities. It is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, and has the authority and responsibility to investigate specific crimes assigned to it by Congress or the Attorney General. Some of the crimes that the FBI investigates include:
- Public corruption
- Civil rights
- Organized crime
- White-collar crime
- Violent crime
- Weapons of mass destruction
- Crimes against children
- Human trafficking
- Missing persons
- Identity theft
- Hate crimes
- Bank robbery
- Serial murder
- and more
The FBI also provides other law enforcement agencies with cooperative services, such as fingerprint identification, laboratory examinations, criminal justice information, hostage rescue, tactical support, crisis management, victim assistance, and training. The FBI also gathers, shares, and analyzes intelligence, both to support its own investigations and those of its partners, and to better understand and combat the security threats facing the United States.
The Facts of the FBI
The FBI is a large and complex organization, with many divisions, branches, units, offices, and programs. Here are some facts and figures about the FBI that you may not know:
- The FBI employs over 35,000 people, of whom about 13,000 are special agents and 22,000 are professional staff.
- All FBI special agents must complete an intensive 20-week training course at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
- The FBI has 56 field offices, more than 350 resident agencies, and more than 60 international offices in over 200 countries.
- The FBI operates the largest biometric database in the world, which contains over 200 million fingerprints, as well as palm prints, iris scans, and facial images.
- The FBI has a collection of over 5,000 samples of human and animal hair, which can be used to compare and identify hair evidence from crime scenes.
- The FBI has a team of forensic document examiners, who can analyze and reconstruct shredded, burned, or soaked documents, as well as examine handwriting, signatures, and printing.
- The FBI has a library of over 100,000 books, periodicals, and reports, which covers topics such as law, criminology, terrorism, and psychology.
- The FBI has a museum that displays artifacts and exhibits related to the history and operations of the FBI, such as weapons, badges, vehicles, and memorabilia.
- The FBI has a vault that contains classified and sensitive documents, as well as evidence from some of the most famous and infamous cases in FBI history, such as the Unabomber, the 9/11 attacks, and the JFK assassination.
- The FBI has a motto that reads “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity”, which reflects the core values and mission of the FBI.
The FBI is a vital and influential agency that plays a key role in the national security and law enforcement of the United States. The FBI has a long and rich history, a wide and diverse range of functions, and a lot of interesting and surprising facts. The FBI is constantly evolving and improving, and strives to uphold its motto and serve the American people. The FBI is not just a bureau, it is a symbol of justice, courage, and excellence.