Local Law Enforcement v. FBI: They’re Not the Same


There’s a question that always comes up during my workshops and seminars. I get the question in emails. I see it in online discussion groups. Well, it reared its head again this week in another online loop. The question is – “When does the FBI come into town, use their authority, and take over a case from the local police?” Short answer – NEVER, unless they’re invited by local law enforcement, or, unless it’s a case they initiated, like a big art theft from your local museum. They don’t even investigate all bank robberies.

Official FBI training manual

The FBI is not some supreme law enforcement entity that local cops bow down to. In fact, I dare say that the majority of FBI special agents have never arrested a single bad guy. They certainly don’t patrol the streets. That’s not what they do, that’s not what they’re trained to do, and that’s not what they’re expected to do. They do not enforce local law. The crimes investigated by federal agents are entirely different than those investigated by your local police; therefore, an agent’s training is different. Here’s a list of most crimes investigated by the FBI:


Weapons of mass destruction


Online Crimes, such as fraud and predators

Public corruption

Election fraud

Hate crimes

Civil rights

Human traffficking

Organized crime

Sports bribery

White collar crime

Crimes against children

Cruise ship crime

Art theft

Cargo theft

Money laundering

Violent gangs

Insurance fraud

Local cops are charged with keeping you safe. They patrol the streets and investigate crimes. They’re charged with enforcing all laws of your community and state. They work burglaries, homicides, rapes, robberies, assaults, and drug crimes. They work in the schools, educating children and keeping them safe while you’re at work. They comfort the elderly when they call late at night. They pull people from burning automobiles and homes. They perform CPR on drug overdose victims.

So, you can see for yourself there are few similarities between FBI agents and local police officers. FBI agents are highly skilled law enforcement officers, and they’re good at what they do. So are local officers. I’ve worked with federal officers on many cases, and the experience was pleasant. They were fantastic people, very sharp, and even funny. I still have friends who are federal agents. I talk to some on a daily basis – several times a day. But the two agencies are not the same. Not even close. It’s like comparing apples to oranges, night and day, dogs and cats…patrol officers to agents.

Question: Was Elvis really an undercover FBI agent?



5 replies
  1. Earth2Mary
    Earth2Mary says:

    Internet fights/arguments are addicting, but the nastier person always wins. Don’t be the nastier person, Lee! You are still a role model to a lot of people, and fights can mess that up.

    I just realized that everything I know about the FBI I learned from the TV series “Bones”. And, I don’t think Elvis was an undercover agent–didn’t he die of a drug overdose? Although supposedly Marilyn Monroe did as well.

  2. MysteryWriter
    MysteryWriter says:

    Wow. I don’t even know what to say to that. I’ve interviewed both police officers and FBI agents and it really was like apples and oranges. The police officers were always friendly and helpful and always, always went the extra mile to make sure I had the information I needed.

    Not so much with the FBI.

    His comments were pretty darned hateful in my opinion. Wonder what number he’ll dial when he has an emergency?

  3. Elena
    Elena says:

    I am old enough to remember when getting a high school diploma was something to celebrate – a matter of pride for the entire family.

    However, I am also old enough to know full well that the level of school a person attains has absolutely no relationship with how well s/he knows/does their job.

    Therefore I don’t get this guy’s point – he’s just out there waving his ego around.

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