In 1962, May 15 was designated as Peace Officers Memorial Day and that entire week as National Police Week -- a time to recognize all law enforcement officers. Across Interior, over 3,500 law enforcement officers safeguard lives, protect our national treasures, defend wildlife, and preserve the natural and cultural resources entrusted to the Department. Everyday, these dedicated professionals provide an invaluable service to the public and the nation.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs manages law enforcement, corrections and tribal courts programs and preserve tribal sovereignty by supporting tribes in their efforts to ensure public safety, protect property and administer justice within their communities and reservations. BIA officers are at the front and center of combating the opioid and drug crisis in Indian Country as part of a new joint task force announced by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. Recently, BIA agents and officers seized $2.5 million worth of methamphetamine as part of an operation with the Pueblo Tribes and New Mexico law enforcement officials. Not only are they conducting raids to get drugs out of communities, BIA law enforcement personnel are also equipped with live-saving medications to treat people suffering a drug overdose.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s law enforcement officers include Special Agents, Special Agent Attachés, Conservation Law Enforcement Officers, Wildlife Inspectors, Refuge Federal Wildlife Officers and canine officers (everyone’s favorite). Special Agents put themselves at risk to infiltrate wildlife trafficking rings and take down domestic and international criminal cartels. Special Agent Attachés at seven U.S. embassies around the world assist their host countries in the fight against wildlife trafficking. Conservation Law Enforcement Officers protect imperiled species and Wildlife Inspectors not only facilitate the legal wildlife trade, but also stop the importation of illegal wildlife and wildlife products at the nation’s major international airports, ocean ports, and border crossings. At national wildlife refuges across the country, Refuge Federal Wildlife Officers protect wildlife, habitat and people. They are the most visible FWS officers, assisting hunters, anglers, birders, and other visitors and helping connect the public to nature.
The Bureau of Land Management does a big job providing law enforcement on 245 million acres of America's public lands. From patrolling to investigations, BLM law enforcement officers strive each and every day to keep public lands safe for millions of visitors. From Alaska's remote backcountry to well-known, highly-visited areas like California's Imperial Sand Dunes, BLM law enforcement professionals work tirelessly to prevent, detect and investigate crimes on some of our nation's most majestic, well-visited and remote landscapes. They protect Native American artifacts and fossils on the lands managed by BLM. In addition to their everyday duties, these officers also conduct search and rescue missions, work closely with state and local law enforcement agencies, provide visitor information and even give educational talks to school groups and other community organizations.
The United States Park Police was created by President George Washington in 1791 and stands guard at some of our nation’s most iconic places and events. U.S. Park Police officers are charged with protecting the Statue of Liberty, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and other well known monuments and memorials. Diligent patrol efforts and coordination with the Intelligence/Counter-Terrorism Unit keep people safe at large events like the Fourth of July celebration in Washington, D.C. Park police also monitor First Amendment activities like demonstrations, protests, marches and gatherings on National Park Service property to ensure compliance with federal rules and regulations, provide a safe environment for all individuals and protect natural and cultural resources.
Flexibility is the hallmark of great law enforcement. Recently, U.S. Park Police and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service teams were deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border, where Interior manages 40 percent of the land along our southern border and has federal law enforcement responsibilities. These officers will coordinate with other federal, state and local agencies to help protect the land, people and cultural resources from illegal activity.
During the busy summer season, almost 2,000 National Park Service law enforcement rangers protect the public at parks from Florida to Alaska. In support of the Park Service mission, law enforcement officers protect park visitors, prevent crime, conduct investigations, apprehend criminals and serve the needs of millions of visitors a year. Law enforcement rangers patrol parklands on foot, using off-road vehicles, on horseback, in boats or even on bicycles. Depending on the park environment and terrain, they may be called upon to patrol everything from remote backcountry trails to busy beaches and lakes.
Behind a shield and a smile, Interior law enforcement officers do a dangerous and important job. We’re grateful for their service and sacrifice