Federal Law Enforcement Policy and Practice Regarding Bank Robberies

Gao ID: 095395 July 20, 1978

A review of the role of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in investigations of bank robberies and the role of U.S. attorneys in the prosecution of bank robbers indicated that the federal government should reduce its role in bank robbery criminal investigations and prosecutions. Discussions with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials showed that bank robberies did not represent a unique problem for law enforcement and that local jurisdictions generally could assume a greater investigative and prosecutive burden. Reduction of the federal role in bank robberies would permit FBI to devote more resources to investigative priorities such as organized crime, white-collar crime, and foreign counterintelligence. Although federal policy has consistently called for a restrictive application of federal resources in areas of concurrent jurisdiction, particularly with regard to bank robberies, current practices have resulted in local authorities playing a subordinate role. A plan should be established to minimize the investigative involvement of FBI in bank robberies, limiting that role to assisting police by serving as a clearinghouse for linking bank robberies in various jurisdictions and aiding interstate investigation of bank robberies. U.S. attorneys should only become involved in the prosecution of bank robbers where federal procedures facilitate prosecution.

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