Why does the US have so many federal law enforcement agencies, many with overlapping objectives instead of having just one or two for all crimes?


You got the FBI who investigates all federal crimes including drug and weapons trafficking but the DEA also investigates those things, the ATF pretty much does the same thing as the FBI as well and so on. Why have so many different agencies that besides a few minor things, mainly investigate the same things? I understand the Air Marshal Service and Border Patrol but cant the FBI do what all the other agencies do?

In: Culture

The FBI also investigated domestic terrorism and kidnapping, the DEA operates overseas. They have different missions and objectives.

The ATF and DEA might be merged into a single agency but they’re highly specialized in those fields.

Also governments like to keep them separate. A single organization with enough mandates would have excessive power.

You have a school project to make a science experiment and poster board to present to the class. You have groups of 5. Tommy’s mom is rich so he’s buying the supplies. Tina’s mom is very hands on and likes to help, so Tina is doing the actual experiment. You are a good speaker so youre the one presenting. Luna is a good artist so she’s making the posterboard. That leaves Ike. Ike was added to your group late because he missed a day of class and you were one short. Ike starts to help by making some of the posterboard, but Luna doesn’t really need the help, and Ike is more adept at making computer presentations than hand drawn art anyways. But there isn’t anywhere else Ike is needed and it makes more sense for him to stick with the artsy stuff because he is still an artist afterall. Youre teammates and you all get together to solve this conundrum of what Ike can do, and decide he should make a power point for when you present because you’ll have the only power point and it can be a highlight of your presentation.

So Ike then leaves Luna to the posterboard and makes a power point for your group. That means everyone is doing their part of the project now and Ike has found his place in the group. He may overlap some with Luna because they want to collaborate to use the same fonts and color scheme on the two art parts, but overall they are firmly seperate. And you and Ike might collaborate on making the power point better since you’re the one presenting it. And Luna and Tina have to collaborate with Tommy since he’s the one getting the materials for the project.

This translates to the US agencies easily in that you have X agencies doing their own part of the whole picture (stopping crime), and when a new type of crime pops up, one of the existing agencies splits into two each specialised in their own thing. Sometimes the criminals force an overlap in specialities and make the agencies collaborate with each other.