The Department of Justice is a cabinet-level agency that is in charge of enforcing all U.S. federal laws. The DOJ’s head is the U.S. Attorney General, who is often referred to as the ‘top cop.’ Part of their scope of services is preventing crime, including terrorism. They also get involved in public safety issues regarding either domestic or foreign threats.
And as the leader of law enforcement, they are supported by other law enforcement agencies including the FBI, ATF, U.S. Marshals, Bureau of Prisons, and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The Attorney General (AG) acts as the U.S. government’s lawyer.
Formed in 1789 by the first Congress, the U.S. Marshals are the oldest federal law enforcement agency. They were given broad authority to support federal courts. For two hundred year, they have served subpoenas and warrants.
Today, they oversee 94 individual federal judicial districts. They have successfully caught about 50% of all federal fugitives. And they are also an integral part of the Witness Security Program. If property has been illegally obtained, the U.S. Marshals are the ones who intervene and seize it. They play a significant role in protecting federal judges, as well as transport prisoners. The U.S. Marshals also prevent civil disturbances and help negotiate hostage situations.
U.S. Air Marshals
While this is a governmental law enforcement agency, it is not under the direction of the Department of Justice. Instead, they are under the supervision of the Transportation Security Authority of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. They act as an extra layer of counter-terrorism in TSA’s security of the traveling public.
The U.S. Marshals have jurisdiction on the ground, whereas the Air Marshals operate in a unique environment. They are highly-skilled marksmen who travel incognito on aircraft, and occasionally they are dispersed to assist mass transit systems during high profile events. For example, they have been deployed with sometimes only an hour’s notice to fly in and out of Super Bowl events, cities hosting the Olympics, as well as cities where the president will visit. They are plentiful during other events including the State of the Union address and NCAA Final Four.