Analysis: Fund the watchdogs, don't create new agencies

Monday - 1/30/2012, 10:33am EST

Jonathan Adler, president, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association

Download mp3

President Obama called for two new federal law enforcement units in last week's State of the Union speech. The Trade Enforcement group would look at imported goods with an eye toward spotting counterfeits, and a financial crimes unit would crack down on fraud.

"On the one hand, I'd love to have two new agencies, because then I could recruit new members for FLEOA," said Jonathan Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. "But, I don't necessarily think that's the right way to go, in spite of my desire to build my organization.

Adler told The Federal Drive with Tom Temin that it wasn't the right time for the federal government to dedicate money and resources to building two new agencies, when the existing law enforcement agencies are capable of investigating these areas.

"I applaud the President for recognizing the priority of addressing these two areas of crime," Adler said. "But, we have the FBI, IRS, ICE, CBP, Postal Inspection and a host of other home-run-hitting agencies that do a great job investigating these areas.

From Adler's perspective, if those individual agencies are short on staff to focus on new priorities like fighting terrorism, the answer is to give those agencies more funding rather than creating two new agencies.

"In other words, feed your watchdogs, don't go out and buy a whole new pack with trainers and groomers," he said.

In order for existing law agencies to be more effective, a coordination of efforts is required. "The task force is probably the most powerful component we have in law enforcement," Adler said. "Common sense would dictate that you're bringing together all the necessary assets to form the right team to combat a specific problem."

It's not that these agencies don't have the skills to spot counterfeit goods or tackle financial crimes either. The Treasury Department operates FinCen, its financial crimes network; and ICE has its intellectual properties, just to give two examples.

"All of these vehicles are in play," Adler said. "It's just a matter of getting them additional resources to make them a little more effective in terms of fighting these crimes."