The 12 regional Federal Reserve banks are legally private entities, yet they have their own police forces under the authority of the United States government. They have possessed this authority for over a decade. It was given to them by the Patriot Act (2001).
They do not broadcast this authority. They prefer to keep this fact in the background. But they hire armed officers to police their own affairs.
Why do private agencies possess such authority under the United States Constitution? Because this is not your grandfather’s Constitution any more. The Patriot Act changed all that.
Section 364 of the Act, “Uniform Protection Authority for Federal Reserve,” reads: “Law enforcement officers designated or authorized by the Board or a reserve bank under paragraph (1) or (2) are authorized while on duty to carry firearms and make arrests without warrants for any offense against the United States committed in their presence…Such officers shall have access to law enforcement information that may be necessary for the protection of the property or personnel of the Board or a reserve bank.”
The police officers are technically known as FRLEO, short for Federal Reserve Law Enforcement Officer. The system has its own police academies for training, their own patch and badges, uniforms, pistols, rifles, police cars and the power to arrest coast to coast without a warrant. They have ranks of Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain and a recruitment ad campaign with the slogan: “It’s about respect and recognition from your peers. It’s you.”
They receive training in most weapons: pistols, shotguns, and machine guns.
They have their own union, the Federal Reserve Policemen’s Benevolent Association.
Why should these institutions possess federal power? Because the Congress has paid no attention to such legal issues as the sovereignty of the U.S. government. Congress extended executive power to these private agencies because almost no one in Congress pays any attention to laws. The book title by retired California state senator W. H. “Bill” Richardson is accurate: What Makes You Think We Read the Bills?
When any institution’s agents legally carries badges and guns, it is an agency of civil government. So, the regional banks both are and are not government institutions. The Federal Reserve System is like no other institution.