Federal Bureau of Investigation

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), agency of the United States Department of Justice,
and the principal federal investigative agency. Functions of the FBI, under its general
responsibility of investigating violations of federal law, include the investigation of espionage,
sabotage, subversive activities, and other actions related to national security; organized crime
and drug trafficking; terrorism; and white-collar crime.
The FBI originated in 1908 as the Bureau (later the Division) of Investigation of the Justice
Department. Following a reorganization in 1924, J. Edgar Hoover became the first director,
and the bureau\'s present policies were defined. The bureau acquired its present name in 1935.
In addition to its national headquarters in Washington, D.C., the FBI maintains 58 field offices
in strategic cities in the United States and Puerto Rico. It also maintains an Identification
Division, established in 1924; the FBI Laboratory, founded in 1932; a training program for FBI
agents; the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, established in 1935 and expanded in
1972; and a project called Uniform Crime Reporting, begun in 1930.
FBI jurisdiction extends to more than 180 matters, including bank robbery, extortion,
racketeering, kidnapping, antitrust violations, and, since 1982, drug enforcement activities. The
FBI investigates infringement of civil rights committed in violation of federal law.
The Office of Personnel Management has primary responsibility for conducting applicant
investigations for the federal government. When the president so directs, however, as in the
case of positions of high importance or sensitivity, or when data indicating possible disloyalty
come to light, the FBI conducts the applicant investigation. The FBI also handles inquiries
concerning individuals requiring security clearances at the request of other government
agencies. In 1939, the FBI was made the national clearinghouse for data relating to internal
security by a presidential directive. The FBI discharges its duties in cooperation with local and
state law enforcement agencies, as well as those of other countries.
Among functions specifically excluded from the jurisdiction of the FBI are investigations of
counterfeiting and violations of the customs and revenue laws, which are the province of the
Treasury Department. Violations of the postal laws, which are under the jurisdiction of the U.S.
Postal Service, are also excluded from the jurisdiction of the FBI. United States intelligence
activities abroad, relating to the national security of the United States, are planned, developed,
and coordinated by the Central Intelligence Agency, an agency of the National Security
Council, which is also charged with certain activities relating to the security of atomic bomb
projects in the U.S.
The Identification Division, a repository for identification data, began with about 810,000 sets
of arrest fingerprints acquired from the criminal identification data of the federal penitentiary at
Leavenworth, Kansas, and from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. In the
following years, as local and state law enforcement agencies forwarded fingerprint records to
the FBI, its criminal identification data increased greatly. After 1933, when the Civil
Identification Section was established, the number of fingerprints in possession of the FBI rose
precipitately. It currently has on file more than 173 million sets of fingerprints, the largest
collection in the world. As a result, the FBI has been able to function as a national
clearinghouse for criminal identification data and identification data on missing persons, as
well as for other civilian uses. Through a service called the International Exchange of
Fingerprints, sponsored by the FBI since 1932, the FBI exchanges identification data with the
law enforcement agencies of more than 80 foreign countries and with U.S. possessions
outside the continental limits.
The FBI Laboratory employs specialists trained in many branches of science and in methods of
scientific crime detection. They examine and analyze specimens of evidence submitted by FBI
agents and by local law enforcement agencies. Precision instruments and chemical and other
processes are utilized in the examination and analysis of letters, documents, bullets,
bloodstains, human and animal hair and skin, textile fibers, soils, rocks, metals, and other
evidential substances and matter.
The training program educates FBI agents in the techniques of scientific investigation and
crime detection. Applicants must be between 23 and 40 years of age and graduates of a
state-accredited resident law school or a resident 4-year college with an accounting major and
at least three years\' work experience in this field. The FBI also considers applicants with a
resident 4-year college degree and a specialization for which it has a need. Periodically,
agents attend in-service classes to keep abreast of the latest developments in crime-detection
methods. Training is also given to stenographic and clerical personnel.
The National Academy trains police instructors and administrators selected from law
enforcement agencies in the U.S.