San Diego, CA.  June 1986.  I was coming home from work around 1 am – at a rather rapid rate of speed – when I blasted past a yellow and white police car that read “State Police” on the side.  At the time I had no idea California even had a state police department.  As the officer so kindly explained to me alongside the road a few minutes later, the agency had been in existence almost 100 years.

Thankfully he was very nice so I didn’t have to appear in court to see if he actually had the authority to write a speeding ticket.  The California State Police eventually was absorbed by the California Highway Patrol in July 1995.   All of their 277 employees became part of the CHP.  Now I know for a fact the CHP has the authority to write speeding tickets.

I digress.

Several months ago the San Diego police museum obtained a badge for our multi agency badge case.  Adorned with four stars across the top, the full size blue and gold badge read “City of New York Sheriff.” 

A museum volunteer, who also happened to be from New Jersey and was very familiar with New York City, saw the shield and quickly chimed in, “that badge is a fake, there’s no such thing as the New York City Sheriff.”  He was wrong.  It turns out the 150 member agency has actually been in existence since the year 1626 and has civil authority across all five counties within the New York City limits.

Many people know that the city and county of San Francisco are one in the same.  Not many people are aware there exists an 844 sworn member San Francisco County Sheriff’s Department.   Like many other sheriff’s across the country, the SFCSD has authority over the jails, courts and serving civil papers.  Unlike a lot of sheriff’s departments they do not provide general patrol services however they can and do assist the SFPD with patrolling the streets should the need arise.

Here are some other law enforcement agencies the general public may not be familiar with.

The United States Supreme Court Police: Originally created in 1935, the primary duty of this 145 member department is to protect the Supreme Court building, the Justices, employees, guests and visitors.  The agency is governed by the Marshall of the United States Supreme Court, another law enforcement agency.  Units of the SCPD include uniformed services, protective services, threat assessment unit, background investigations, Honor Guard, a bomb response team and a Canine Unit.  Supreme Court officers are trained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Georgia.  Members of this department may retire at the age of 50 with 20 years of qualifying service, or at any age with 25 years of service.

Everyone has heard of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but how many know about the FBI Police Department?  As part of the Security Division, uniformed FBI police officers provide protective security to FBI personnel, facilities and perform law enforcement duties in and around some of the FBI's most important facilities. The primary mission of the FBI Police is to deter terrorist attacks with the visible presence of a well trained, well equipped, professional police force and to protect the FBI from criminal acts and unauthorized access.

The Bureau of Reclamation Police is a federal security police force, stationed at Hoover Dam 23 miles southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada. Outfitted with traditional blue uniforms and issued gold badges, Reclamation Police Officers are stationed only at Hoover Dam.  Hoover Dam has been designated as a National Critical Infrastructure so the primary responsibilities of this agency is to protect the Dam, the world's 38th-largest hydroelectric generating station, its associated structures and to safeguard the lives of visitors and employees.

One of the most common items of theft is money.  So it would make sense that if you’re going to have a lot of it, you probably need someone pretty good to protect it.  Enter two separate police forces – the United States Mint Police Department and the Bureau of Printing and Engraving Police. 

The reason there are two agencies is the US Mint is responsible for making coins while paper currency is handled by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Located where the money is printed in Washington DC, the BEPPD has marked police cars and uniformed officers.  While these men and women protect the money and assets of the Bureau of Engraving before it leaves the building, anyone wishing to create their own off premise bureau of printing and engraving (commonly known as counterfeiting) will have to deal with the United States Secret Service.

Speaking of the Secret Service, did you know they also have a uniformed branch?  Secret Service Uniformed Division officers provide protection for the White House Complex, the Vice President's residence, the main Treasury Building and Annex and foreign diplomatic missions and embassies in the Washington, D.C., area.   Additionally, Uniformed Division officers travel in support of presidential, vice presidential, and foreign head of state government missions.

Established in 1792, the United States Mint Police is one of the oldest federal law enforcement agencies in the nation.  Responsible for establishing a standard "As secure as Fort Knox," officers of the U.S. Mint Police are responsible for protecting over $100 billion in treasury and other government assets stored in facilities located at Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco, CA; West Point, NY; Denver, CO; Fort Knox, KY; and Washington, DC.

The Pentagon Force Protection Agency AKA U.S. Pentagon Police has exclusive jurisdiction within the Pentagon Reservation and has concurrent jurisdiction with other law enforcement agencies (federal, state, & local) in an area of approximately 275 acres around the complex.  Pentagon police officers also have jurisdiction at Department of Defense leased property throughout the national capitol and at the US Military Court of Appeals.  The U.S. Pentagon Police has an assortment of career specialties.  With bicycle and motorcycle patrols as well as an Emergency Response Team, K-9, Protective Service Unit, Criminal Investigations, Training Branch, Evidence and Court Liaison, and Recruiting branch the Pentagon police can offer very diverse career assignments.

You have probably seen the FDIC sticker on the window of your bank.  The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures bank deposits up to $250,000 but even with 40 police officers assigned to their own police force they still wouldn’t win the title of most obscure police agency in the United States.  That prize would most likely go to the National Space Enforcement Office, part of the US Dept. of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  These officers are charged with enforcement of certain export regulations relating to satellite technology and liaison between private sector satellite industry and the intelligence community. Careerwise, one might classify this obscure police department as an all or nothing agency. Including the chief, this agency has two officers.