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  • Oldest US law enforcement agency

    What is the oldest US law enforcement agency? I know the Guardia Municipal in San Juan, PR was created in the 1500s but I mean on the mainland states.

    Im assuming its constables/sheriffs in Plymouth or Jamestown?

  • #2
    Saint Mary's County Sheriff's Office in Maryland.

    www.firstsheriff.com
    In God we trust, all others are run MILES and NCIC.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by ChrisF202
      What is the oldest US law enforcement agency? I know the Guardia Municipal in San Juan, PR was created in the 1500s but I mean on the mainland states.

      Im assuming its constables/sheriffs in Plymouth or Jamestown?
      I guess this could be one of those "it depends on whom you ask" deals, but I've alays understood it to be the United States Customs Service, currently constituted as the Customs and Border Protection Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security.
      Tim Dees, now writing as a plain old forum member, his superpowers lost to an encounter with gold kryptonite.

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      • #4
        Oldest US Law Enforcement Agency

        I've seen the U.S. Postal Inspectors make the claim of oldest agency as well.

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        • #5
          US Marshals Service makes the claim as well since they were created by the Judiciary Act of 1789 (I actually did a paper on the act during college for a History Class).....

          http://www.usdoj.gov/marshals/history/oldest.htm

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          • #6
            The real deal:
            2nd act of Congress in 1789 established the Customs Service. The U.S. Marshals make the claim as the first "law enforcement only", while Customs was a Revenue agency. Nope, the Customs Service (and the Revenue Cutter Service, now Coast Guard), was the first agency constituted to enforce the laws of the United States.

            If you go to the Marshal's web site listed above, you will see that they are very careful about defining their claim. Sorry fellows, you do great work, but it was U.S. Customs first, feeding the Treasury and enforcing anti-smuggling laws since 1789.

            Why were we the first? Because most of the "Founding Fathers" had made fortunes smuggling past the Brits! The new country needed the money, and the anti-smuggling laws were the way to get it. (There was no income tax until 1918, IIRC).
            Last edited by Sleuth; 07-12-2006, 05:56 PM.
            "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
            John Stuart Mill

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            • #7
              I swear my dept has some equipment from that time period we still use...

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              • #8
                Not to add fuel to the fire, but my good friend is a Postal Inspector and she swears they are the oldest LE agency. She claims their agency can be traced back to 1772, when Postmaster General Ben Franklin appointed a surveyor or special agent to regulate and audit the mails; thus, the Service's origins predate the Declaration of Independence (wording with the help of Wikipedia).

                She even gave me a nice USPIS wall calender a few years ago which clearly said they were the oldest LE agency...

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Metro174
                  Saint Mary's County Sheriff's Office in Maryland.

                  www.firstsheriff.com
                  One of the first...lol...oldest Sheriff's office in Maryland...

                  I agree that it may be the Postal Service!

                  Or was it those cowboys out west?
                  "An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded."

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                  • #10
                    Postal Inspectors

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SoCalFed
                      Not to add fuel to the fire, but my good friend is a Postal Inspector and she swears they are the oldest LE agency. She claims their agency can be traced back to 1772, when Postmaster General Ben Franklin appointed a surveyor or special agent to regulate and audit the mails; thus, the Service's origins predate the Declaration of Independence (wording with the help of Wikipedia).

                      She even gave me a nice USPIS wall calender a few years ago which clearly said they were the oldest LE agency...
                      Yeah...it's a big feud btwn USMS, USPIS, and USCG about who is the oldest FLEO service.....

                      I have the same calender at my office back in Missouri......one of my buddies that is with the USMS Office out of KC about crapped when he saw that.....and started bitching.....

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                      • #12
                        Jamestown, VA

                        How about Captain John Smith, who defended the Jamestown, VA settlement starting in 1607. Jamestown may not exist any longer, but I don't think that is the criteria here.

                        Not only did he defend indian attacks, he also enforced strict laws that basically said, "no work, no food." What a concept!

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                        • #13
                          Is this the oldest law enforcement agency in America, or the oldest agency formed after we became a nation?

                          adding

                          http://www.nleomf.com/TheMemorial/Facts/impdates.htm
                          Last edited by willowdared; 07-13-2006, 12:53 AM.
                          Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.

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                          • #14
                            Beyond federal, I believe Boston claims to be the first city with a "professional" police force.
                            Caution and worry never accomplished anything.

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                            • #15
                              Not Quite

                              You need to define exactly how the question will be asked. To be the oldest LE agency in the US it had to have some type of jurisdiction. If it was created before the ratification of the Constitution then it can’t be federal. It will be an agency with inter-state authority.

                              The Constitution was officially ratified and became effective March 4, 1789, and the Marshals Service was formed by the Judiciary Act of Sept. 24, 1789. It was a dedicated body for law enforcement and intended for such purpose.

                              In 1772, Postmaster General Benjamin Franklin created the position of “Surveyor”, which later changed its name to "Chief Postal Inspector", but appears to have served the same function. The Postal Inspection Service is currently a federal law enforcement agency, but was it always considered as such? NO…..

                              Benjamin Franklin position was not intended to be a dedicated body of law enforcement, so it doesn’t count.

                              Of course if you want to get all technical and stuff, the oldest settlement/city in the US was formed in Florida; St. Augustine, 1565. The Spanish government had soldiers that enforced Spanish rule on the settlement. So then they could be considered as the oldest LE agency since they had clear responsibilities of enforcing laws and regulations.

                              But wait!!! Before those Spaniards came, the Native Americans had set out rules and regulations that were enforced by Indian tribe’s chiefs and their deputies. So then they have the oldest running LE agency in the US; the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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