Mitchell, Matthew J.

Mr. Matthew J. Mitchell serves as an Intelligence Officer in the United States Coast Guard. He completed his M.S. in Criminal Justice Sciences at Illinois State University. Mr. Mitchell is a U.S. Army veteran and a prior probation officer.

Criminal and Investigative Agencies of the Armed Forces of the United States
2006 0-7734-5860-3
Within the federal government, nearly sixty investigative agencies exist. Except the multi-faceted Federal Bureau of Investigation, the majority hold jurisdiction over only a specific area of law, such as mail, income tax, or public lands. This myriad of civilian investigative agencies is in sharp contrast to the investigative agencies of the U.S. Armed Forces. Each branch relies on only one general agency to meet all of its investigative needs, while the federal civilian government relies on numerous specialized agencies. The central question addressed in this thesis is why or how has that contrast developed. Before addressing this central question, however, it is necessary to explore the history of investigations within the armed forces to determine the impetus for these agencies’ creation.

Despite a lack of published scholarship, enough data are available through government documents not only to trace the lineage of these agencies, but also to draw strong conclusions concerning their organizational structures, which are in contrast to those of the civilian investigative agencies. First, the gradual accruement of responsibilities by the federal government has resulted in numerous civilian agencies being created to meet specific investigative needs. Conversely, the Armed Forces’ investigative agencies were created to meet multiple investigative needs in the immediacy of war. Second, centralization was clearly a prerequisite for investigative autonomy within the military chain of command. Centralization affords organizational independence, which in turn severely limits the possibility of malicious interference with investigations from persons in positions of authority.

This study adds to the existing body of academic knowledge by exploring a previously untouched subject, one that, given the expanding role of the U.S. Armed Forces in criminal matters, is critically important to the discipline criminal justice science.