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Peter J. Dowling, US Secret Service, testimony to the
U.S. House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, Subcommittee on the District of Columbia
May 8, 1998




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Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

My name is Peter J. Dowling and I am the Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service, Washington Field Office. Accompanying me today is Richard Friedman, Chief of the Secret Service Uniformed Division. On behalf of Director Lewis C. Merletti, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.

The testimony we present will focus on the Secret Service's relationship with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) vis-a-vis our joint efforts to combat crime while serving the citizens of the District of Columbia. We will discuss the functions of our Uniformed Division Officers, Special Agents assigned to the Washington Field Office, and other support personnel, such as Security Specialists from the Technical Security Division.

The U.S. Secret Service's role is unique among federal law enforcement agencies in that our jurisdiction includes both protective and investigative authority and encompasses a uniformed police force, as well as traditional "special agent" investigators. In fact, by statutory authority, members of the Secret Service Uniformed Division enjoy the same "police powers" within the District of Columbia, as members of the MPD.

The primary mission of our Uniformed Division is to provide protection for the White House Complex, the Vice President's Residence, and over five hundred (500) foreign diplomatic missions and embassies, the vast majority of which are located in Northwest Washington. Officers are assigned to fixed posts, foot patrols, motor patrols, bike patrols, and marked police cruiser patrols. Their presence on the streets of the District of Columbia serves as an additional deterrent to crime.

In addition to their specifically assigned duties, Uniformed Division Officers routinely respond to requests for assistance from citizens of the District and visitors. These services range from giving directions to lost tourists, up to and including apprehending violent criminals and drunk drivers who pose a serious risk of injury to the public. Uniformed Division Officers also routinely provide "back up" to MPD Officers who require assistance in dangerous situations. In fiscal year 1997, the Uniformed Division made over nine hundred (900) arrests in the District and issued almost twenty-two hundred (2,200) citations for moving violations. Chief Friedman can cite numerous instances of his officers assisting MPD.

The Uniformed Division also has formed a Crime Scene Unit, which responds to all crime scenes at Secret Service protected areas. The Crime Scene Unit utilizes "state of the art" equipment and our technicians are highly trained and are all "expert witnesses" in Superior and District Court for the District of Columbia. This has significantly helped free up resources for MPD, since their Mobile Crime Units had previously been tasked with this responsibility. Moreover, MPD uses the Uniformed Division Crime Scene Unit as a back up to their Mobile Crime Units, and our Crime Scene Unit has responded to numerous homicides and other violent crime scenes to assist MPD.

Special Agents assigned to our Washington Field Office conduct a wide range of criminal investigations within the jurisdiction of the Secret Service and the Treasury Department. These violations include counterfeiting, forgery of U.S. Government checks and bonds, credit card fraud, bank fraud, telecommunications and cellular telephone crimes, assaults on Officers and Special Agents, theft of U.S. Treasury property, fraud in connection with identification documents, and money laundering. These investigations resulted in 1,509 arrests during the last fiscal year.

The Secret Service, along with MPD and other law enforcement agencies, is committed to the U.S. Attorney's Strategic Plan to Reduce Violent Crime and Drug Trafficking in the District. Cases within our core jurisdictions that involve violence, the threat of violence, drug trafficking, or any organized criminal group, receive top priority.

The close working relationship between MPD and the Secret Service in the area of criminal investigations is evidenced by the cross assignment of personnel within the agencies. The Washington Field Office runs two very successful multi-agency task forces: the Metro Area Fraud Task Force (MAFTF) and the HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) Money Laundering Task Force.

The MAFTF has two MPD detectives assigned to it. These detectives work along side Secret Service agents and other federal and local Officers assigned to the Task Force. They investigate complex fraud cases, usually involving organized criminal groups or illegal aliens. This group of dedicated law enforcement professionals has earned a stellar reputation among their peers, federal and state prosecutors in the D.C. area, and the banking and credit card industry. It is considered the "prototype" for other fraud task forces throughout the United States.

The HIDTA Money Laundering Task Force, also supervised by the Secret Service, has one MPD detective assigned. As the name implies, this Task Force targets drug traffickers and investigates their violations of federal law as they attempt to spend their illegal profits (false name bank accounts, "straw" purchasers of real estate or expensive vehicles, etc.). Their assets (cash, real property, vehicles, etc.) are also located and seized, thereby taking the profit out of the crime.

The successes of both task forces are impressive. Last year, approximately one thousand (1,000) individuals were arrested, $ 8.3 million in assets were seized, and $400,000 was returned to MPD through equitable sharing provisions of the Treasury Asset Forfeiture Fund.

As a further commitment to the efforts against violent crime in the District, the Secret Service has recently assigned two Special Agents to MPD's Homicide Unit. These agents work under the supervision of the MPD Homicide Commander and are paired with MPD detectives. We also have one Special Agent assigned to the Joint Fugitive Task Force (JFTF) comprised of personnel from MPD, FBI, and the U.S. Marshals Service. The JFTF targets the most violent fugitives from justice.

The Washington Field Office has also recently formed a new unit to combat telecommunications and cellular telephone crimes. Most drug traffickers and violent street gangs utilize cellular telephones that are either "cloned" or otherwise obtained using a false name or "straw" purchaser, so as not to leave a "paper trail" of their phone billing records in their true names. A cellular phone is "cloned" when a victim's Electronic Serial Number (ESN) and Mobile Identification Number (MIN) are illegally reprogrammed into another phone. The victim usually does not realize he has become a victim until his monthly bill arrives.

In concert with MPD, this new unit will target street level drug dealers and violent gang members who use these illegal cellular phones in violation of federal law. It is anticipated that these investigations will lead to other criminal charges, such as drug possession, firearms possession, etc.

Finally, I would like to mention various "support" functions that the Secret Service offers to MPD and other public safety agencies in the District. In the area of forensics, the Secret Service Forensic Services Division regularly performs laboratory examinations on behalf of MPD for questioned documents. Our Special Agent polygraph examiners conduct polygraphs for MPD when requested. We also conduct forensic examinations of seized computers.

Security Specialists assigned to our Technical Security Division have provided invaluable assistance to MPD, DC Fire Department, and the Metropolitan Medical Strike Team (MMST) in helping the District prepare for a nuclear, biological or chemical (NBC) incident. During last year's anthrax scare at the B'nai B'rith headquarters in the District, our personnel responded to the scene and initially contained the suspected anthrax.

The other Treasury Enforcement bureaus, IRS-Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Customs Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), are also involved with MPD in numerous crime fighting efforts. All devote resources and personnel to HIDTA sponsored drug and violent crime initiatives. ATF works very closely with MPD in dealing with the District's problem of illegal firearms being imported into the city.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared statement. Chief Friedman and I will be happy to answer any questions you or the other members may have.

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