Federal Protective Service, United States
█ CARYN E. NEUMANN
The United States Federal Protective Service (FPS) is the security arm of the General Services Administration (GSA) and it is responsible for the protection of most of the civilian workspace owned or leased by the federal government, as well as the safety of the workers and visitors who use these sites. Headquartered in Washington, D.C. since its 1949 founding, FPS guards more than 8000 sites and one million federal workers and visitors on a daily basis. It promotes safety by employing law enforcement, physical security, and investigative personnel as well as contract guards, electronic surveillance, entry control devices, and a crime prevention awareness campaign. The agency serves as a centralized communication provider by networking with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
The mission of FPS is to permit the conduct of government business by ensuring a safe environment that is open and inviting in a professional and cost effective manner. The agency traces its origins to the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, which consolidated real property functions within the newly created GSA and brought the U.S. Special Police under the protection division of the GSA's Public Building Service. In 1971, GSA established the Federal Protective Force, which later became FPS, in response to the growing number of demonstrations occurring at federal facilities. FPS covers buildings housing most federal agencies, committees, and commissions; U.S. District and Appellate Courts; and U.S. senators and congressional representatives. It bears responsibility for the protection of U.S. Border Patrol Stations, including the San Ysidro Border Station, which separates Tijuana, Mexico from San Diego, California and is considered to be the busiest land port in the world.
Over the years, FPS has shifted its emphasis from the fixed guardpost concept of security to a mobile police force that promotes physical security and crime prevention. The agency has recently adopted community policing, which means that it has moved its officers out of vehicles to allow them to spend more time in and around the buildings leased and operated by GSA. FPS coordinates regional activities with control centers in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Fort Worth, Kansas City, and Washington, D.C. as well as branches in the Far East and Caribbean. It has additional offices in all fifty states plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
To meet its responsibilities, FPS performs both security and law enforcement functions with uniformed and plainclothes personnel and regularly coordinates its activities with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Security, increasingly performed by contract guards as well as physical security specialists, includes such activities as the placement of security equipment and technology. FPS security personnel participate in the modification and repair of existing buildings as well as the construction of new ones to ensure that these sites have specially tailored security measures, equipment, and technology in place. FPS also routinely conducts building assessments of all GSA-controlled facilities to identify security weaknesses. Law enforcement security officers (LESOs), who hold the core FPS position, conduct preliminary investigations of accidents, incidents, and criminal complaints occurring on GSA-controlled property. LESOs do not investigate criminal offenses involving GSA employees but they are responsible for gathering protective intelligence information pertaining to demonstrations, bomb threats, and other criminal activities. FPS law enforcement personnel carry guns and are trained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia.
Until the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, FPS had suffered from repeated budgetary and personnel cuts that compromised its ability to guarantee the safety of federal workers and visitors. After the attack, the GSA bolstered all of its security systems including FPS. As long as fear of terrorism remains strong, FPS will likely play a significant role in homeland security.
█ FURTHER READING:
United States Congress. Committee on Environment and Public Works. Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Federal Protective Service Reform Act of 2000: Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure on the Committee on Environment and Public Works, U.S. Senate, 106 Congress, second session, September 28, 2000 on H.R. 809, a Bill to Amend the Act of June 1, 1948 to Provide for the Reform of the Federal Protective Service. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2000.
United States General Services Administration. Office of Federal Protective Service. Careers in Security and Law Enforcement. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2002.
——. Public Buildings Service. Law Enforcement Division. The Federal Protective Service Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1998.