Federal Law Enforcement Policy and Practice Regarding Bank Robberies

Gao ID: 106566 July 20, 1978

Reducing the Federal Government's investigative and prosecutive roles in bank robbery crime would permit the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to devote more resources to investigative priorities such as organized crime, white-collar crime, and foreign counterintelligence. Despite a Federal law enforcement policy which has consistently called for a restrictive application of Federal resources in areas of concurrent jurisdiction, the FBI and U.S. attorneys have established investigative and prosecutive practices relating to bank robberies which have resulted in local authorities playing a subordinate role. Bank robberies do not represent a unique problem for law enforcement, and local jurisdictions generally could assume a greater investigative and prosecutive burden. In order to minimize the potentially disruptive effects on some local agencies, it would be advisable to reduce the Federal role gradually; a transition period would permit local authorities to prepare for assuming a greater investigative and prosecutive role. The Attorney General should direct the FBI to establish and carry out a plan to minimize its investigative involvement in bank robberies. He should also establish prosecutive guidelines for bank robbery to minimize Federal prosecution except in cases where Federal procedures facilitate prosecution.

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