August 9, 2017
The Federal Protective Service (FPS) is a law enforcement, physical security and intelligence agency within DHS that serves on the front lines every day to prevent, protect, respond to and recover from terrorism, criminal acts, and other hazards threatening the U.S. government, federal employees and public visitors in more than 9,000 federal facilities. Their unique capabilities allow daily government operations to run smoothly. As symbols of U.S. strength and leadership, federal buildings can be a strategic target to those who wish to cause harm, which makes FPS’ services critical to the DHS mission of protecting the homeland. Here are some things you might not know about FPS:
1.) Their core mission is to protect people who work in, and visit, federal facilities.
All across the country, FPS inspectors and special agents work to ensure the safety and security of more than 1.4 million employees and visitors in over 9,000 federal facilities.
An FPS officer on guard outside of the General Services Administration. (Photo courtesy of FPS)
FPS inspectors are law enforcement officers who work closely with the agency leaders to assess what security risks their building faces, and then create tailored security plans to help agencies combat those risks for the safety of their employees and visitors. For example, FPS inspectors make sure buildings have items like security cameras, locked entryways, x-ray machines, and other countermeasures. FPS also has special agents who investigate threats made to federal employees, investigate stolen items, and investigate any major incident or emergency that occurs on federal property.
2.) Every day around the country, they conduct an “Operation Shield” to catch adversaries off guard.
Daily, and with little notice, FPS officers increase their patrols at random federal government buildings to enhance the protection of the individuals inside. This provides a highly-visible law enforcement presence to deter terrorist and criminal activity, and also gives FPS an opportunity to engage with federal employees, visitors, and facility security managers. During Operation Shield, FPS also tests the effectiveness of security countermeasures at that building.
3.) FPS officers have important teammates to help accomplish their mission: Highly-trained K-9 partners
FPS has explosive detection canines across the country to help prevent and detect explosives and other materials that may cause harm to people at federal buildings. FPS canines are primarily Labradors, and go through intensive training with military and police K9 teams, including other agencies from DHS.
An FPS explosive detection canine and FPS officer. (Photo courtesy of FPS)
These furry law enforcement dogs are widely used throughout the country and often support state and local police who may not have dogs who can detect explosives. An FPS canine and its human officer are full-time teammates. After a hard day’s work, and even once it retires, the canine goes home to live with its FPS officer.
4.) They Teach Federal Employees How to Respond to Active Shooters
FPS provides federal employees with training on how to respond to an active shooter in their building. Teaching employees to “Run, Hide, Fight,” this informative presentation explains important life-saving actions each employee can take in that situation. How do FPS officers know so much about this? Because FPS officers respond immediately to reports of active shooters at federal government buildings, and go through extensive training programs each year to prepare themselves for that day. Officers learn how to assess a shooter quickly, and work as a team to eliminate the threat.
(Left) An FPS officer presenting shooter procedures to employees at the Food and Drug Administration. (Right) FPS officers train to respond to an active shooter. (Photos courtesy of FPS)
5.) They are peacekeepers who protect your First Amendment rights.
As symbols of government, federal facilities are often the place where citizens congregate to express their concerns about an issue, often in the form of mass demonstrations or protests. When this happens, FPS law enforcement officers are on-site to ensure that all citizens can express themselves in a safe and peaceful manner. When demonstrations start to become violent against others, or disruptive to government operations, FPS officers will step in to regain the peace.
6.) They cannot accomplish the mission alone, and they help others accomplish their missions in return.
FPS works closely with many other local and state law enforcement agencies, as well as other federal law enforcement agencies, to get the job done. FPS sits on a variety of interagency working groups and task forces, such as the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. As joint partners, FPS works with these agencies to assess and respond to threats, escort government leaders, enhance security measures at major events, and much more. For example, FPS works with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to provide security at the immigration port-of-entries along the nation’s borders. FPS teams up with the U.S. Marshals Service to protect the exterior of federal courthouses.