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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

9/16/2013 (11 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Raid in tiny Alaska town reveals that SEVENTY federal agencies carry arms

Environmental Protection Agency officials deny that an incident in the tiny Alaska gold mining town of Chicken late last month was a "raid." A team of armed federal and state officials descended on the sleepy town claimed that they were taking part in the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force investigation, looking for possible violations of the Clean Water Act. There was some speculation the operation was connected to possible human and drug trafficking. What may be surprising to many American is that there are 70 federal agencies with armed divisions - and not where they expect.

Environmental Protection Agency officials deny that an incident in the tiny Alaska gold mining town of Chicken late last month was a 'raid.'

Environmental Protection Agency officials deny that an incident in the tiny Alaska gold mining town of Chicken late last month was a "raid."

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/16/2013 (11 months ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Armed divisions, agencies, EPA, raids, Chicken, Alaska


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Nearly a dozen agencies typically not associated with law enforcement have armed divisions. Altogether, the agencies employ about 120,000 full-time officers authorized to carry guns and make arrests, according to a June 2012 Justice Department report.

It's a given that the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Prisons carry guns, but such agencies such as the Library of Congress and Federal Reserve Board using armed officers might come as a surprise. 

"Imagine coming up to your diggings, only to see agents swarming over it like ants, wearing full body armor, with jackets that say 'POLICE' emblazoned on them, and all packing side arms," gold miner C.R. Hammond told the Alaska Dispatch.

Other federal agencies participating in the Chicken, Alaska operation were the FBI, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and the Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Park Service.

The FBI, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Park Service are among 24 federal agencies employing more than 250 full-time armed officers with arrest authority, according the federal report. The other 16 agencies have less than 250 officers and include NOAA as well as the Library of Congress, the Federal Reserve Board and the National Institutes of Health.

This number only climbs higher when taking into account the 33 offices of inspector general, the government watchdogs for agencies as large as the Postal Service to the Government Printing Office, whose IG has only five full-time officers.

Defending their use of force, the EPA said "Environmental law enforcement, like other forms of law enforcement, always involves the potential for physical, even armed, confrontation."

In strong dissension, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell has already ordered an investigation, saying "This level of intrusion and intimidation of Alaskans is absolutely unacceptable."

Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Republican, and Mark Begich, Democrat, have inquired about the incident. "This seems to have been a heavy-handed and heavy-armor approach. Why was it so confrontational? The EPA really didn't have any good answers for this," Murkowski says.

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