From Quantity to Quality:

Changing FBI Emphasis on Interstate Property Crimes

GGD-80-43: Published: May 8, 1980. Publicly Released: May 8, 1980.

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has recognized that with its limited resources it could never adequately investigate all crimes within its jurisdiction. Thus in 1975, the FBI implemented a quality over quantity concept in case workload to eliminate marginal investigations or matters not warranting Federal attention. To achieve its strategy of concentrating on quality cases, the FBI must rely on State and local police and prosecutors.

Although Justice Department policymakers clearly support the quality over quantity strategy, it has not been effectively integrated into the day-to-day operations of FBI field offices and U.S. attorneys' offices. Statistics showed that in 253 of the 467 sample cases, the FBI never attempted to coordinate with the State/local police. Also, 56 percent of the cases were closed or declined because of no Federal violation. Moreover, in the property crimes area, conflicting requirements and a lack of reliance on State/local assistance have perpetuated the heavy load of nonquality unproductive cases for the FBI. Currently, the FBI believes it should concentrate its investigations on interstate shipment thefts and interstate transportation of stolen property to quality cases over $50,000. However, U.S. attorneys have prosecutive guidelines that require FBI involvement in offenses that exceed $5,000, the amount established by law as being a Federal offense. Thus, although limiting FBI involvement in cases where Federal jurisdiction is lacking or uncertain is a readily accepted goal, it is not easily implemented.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should strike the reference to $5,000 from the statute governing the interstate transportation of stolen property so that Federal jurisdiction can be directed to those offenses where an expenditure of Federal resources would have the most impact on the Nation's property crime problem.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General, Department of Justice, should: (1) direct U.S. attorneys to change their prosecutive policies for property crimes to agree with FBI quality criteria; (2) determine corrective actions needed to establish or properly administer permanent Federal-State Law Enforcement Committees in each State; and (3) require that the FBI refer to the appropriate local authorities the property cases it closes and those which U.S. attorneys decline for prosecution involving violations of local laws. Additionally, the Attorney General should require the FBI to: (1) minimize FBI involvement in property crimes not warranting a Federal presence by developing guidelines that stress greater reliance on State and local law enforcement agencies; (2) maximize its efforts against major interstate property crimes by more aggressively identifying and investigating top property criminals; and (3) revise its quality criteria to exclude cases where Federal jurisdiction is uncertain.

    Agency Affected:


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