Inside the FBI Podcast: The FBI Police

On this episode of Inside the FBI—and in honor of Police Week 2024—we'll learn how the FBI Police support the FBI mission, how they’re trained, what it takes to join their ranks, and what this week’s observance means to them.

Video Transcript

Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory: Each year in the month of May, the FBI joins our partners throughout the law enforcement community in marking National Police Week.  

This solemn observance honors the dedication, service, and sacrifice of sworn law enforcement officers at the local, state, federal, and Tribal levels who’ve lost their lives while working to protect the American people. 

On this episode of our podcast—and in honor of Police Week 2024—we’ll introduce you to the FBI Police: a force of a few hundred officers who work around the clock to keep our workforce, information, and facilities in the National Capital Region, New York, and West Virginia safe from harm. 

We’ll learn how these sworn law enforcement officers support the FBI mission, how they’re trained, what it takes to join their ranks, and what this week’s observance means to them. 

I’m Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory, and this is Inside the FBI. 

[An intense-feeling track featuring pulsating synthesizers and piano begins and repeats through the end of the episode.]

Oprihory: The FBI Police, as an institution, dates back to the late 1980s. Today, this force of a few hundred officers safeguards Bureau personnel, facilities, and information across the Eastern seaboard. 

FBI Police Chief David Sutton: We're in Washington, New York, West Virginia, at Quantico, and those peripheries. 

Oprihory: That’s FBI Police Chief David Sutton. The U.S. military veteran and former local law enforcement officer spent 26 years with the Newport News Police Department before retiring as a precinct captain and starting a new career as a Bureau contractor. From there, he applied to join the FBI Police. And now, six years later, he leads them. 

Sutton: We're here to protect and serve. It's not just a slogan. It really is who we are.  

Oprihory: The FBI police are sworn law enforcement officers in every sense. They swear an oath to serve and protect, carry badges and guns, and can make arrests.  

The powers vested in them differ depending on where they’re actually stationed. All D.C.-based officers operate under a memorandum of understanding with the Metropolitan Police Department and have full police authority within a set radius of FBI Headquarters. Officers in D.C. and beyond who are assigned to protect specific federal buildings have delegated authority from the Department of Homeland Security to do so. And FBI Police officers working in other areas receive a special deputation from the U.S. Marshals Service to carry out their duties there. 

As FBI Police Officer Briana Chapman explains: 

FBI Police Officer Briana Chapman: ...We are police officers. We just happen to be employed by the FBI, but again, we're out there. If you need something, just ask.   

It's like, “would you report this crime to your local police?” If the answer is “yes” and you see an FBI police officer, feel free to make that same report to us. 

You know, the other day, somebody's car broke down in the middle of an intersection and an officer just happened to be behind them and help them push their car out of the road. 

Sutton: Although we are primarily protective in nature, the officers are trained and empowered as much as any city police officer—sometimes more. 

Oprihory: FBI Police also deploy to the field under certain circumstances. For example, Sutton explained, some of his officers are deploying to— 

Sutton: —the political conferences in Chicago and Milwaukee this year to assist the field office with their security structure during the event. 

Oprihory: According to Chapman, who’s assigned to FBI Headquarters, Washington-based officers are equal-parts security experts and community ambassadors for the Bureau. 

Chapman: Within D.C., we operate just as police officers. So, anything that we may stumble upon within the course of regular patrols, be it on foot or in a vehicle, we're able to tackle as necessary. 

Chapman: Our mission is to protect this building and the infrastructure and the people within it. 

We spend a lot of time making sure that everything is secure around the building and things of that nature. But a lot of the times, it's spent talking to the public. 

A lot of people see the three letters of FBI and are immediately intrigued. And part of what we do as officers is not only understanding the law and all of those things, but just being a good person. 

A lot of our interactions are with the public and people of all walks of life. And who knows? You might even learn a new language along the way. 

Chapman: On an average day we come in, we meet with the shift supervision of the day and then go over anything that might have happened on another shift, and then we break out.  

Once you leave roll call, the day is your oyster.  

We go to posts, you start your patrols again, just making sure everything is secure as always. And then the day just kind of goes from there and we see what happens. We have everything from simply people being locked out of rooms to medical emergencies to even just helping the citizens of Washington, D.C.  

Sutton: That's what I love about police work in general. I don't want to have my day on a schedule. I want to lean forward on the strategic issues that I can control 3-5 years out and then be able to react to what happens on a day-to-day basis. 

Sutton: I'm often pleased and I'm often awed at the work that our organization does as the FBI as a whole, and that my police officers do on a daily basis. Last night, we had an officer in West Virginia that saw a vehicle hit a sign and go careen off the road. And it turned out that the person was having a seizure, and he made the calls to the local jurisdiction, assisted with first aid, and they got the person to the medical facility. Things like that happen a lot and they go unnoticed. We recognize the officers as much as we can. But the general FBI workforce isn't too aware of the FBI police and what we do other than they see the officers standing a post. But it's so much more than that. 

Oprihory: Aspiring FBI Police officers must possess a four-year college degree and meet the FBI’s basic eligibility requirements—which you can find at The application process can take at least a year, much of which is spent conducting an applicant’s background check. 

But, Sutton and Chapman emphasized, the FBI Police aren’t looking for cookie-cutter applicants. 

Chapman: We're always looking for individuals of unique and different backgrounds.  

Oprihory: Though Chapman came to the job with nearly a decade’s worth of experience as an emergency medical technician, she says people don’t need to have past lives as first responders or law enforcement officers to apply. 

Sutton: Diversity is important to the FBI Police as a unit, as an organization, as we develop leaders because, in our culture, we have so much diversity: diversity of thought, culture, language. We have officers that speak different languages, and that's such an enabler for us on the street because we're such a diverse society.  

Chapman: Being able to interact with my coworkers on a daily basis has been able to show me that there is more than just the one way of being a “cop,” if you will. It is a very nice thing to come to work and feel like, if I know that I'm not good at that, I'm sure that there's somebody on my shift who 100% could back me up. 

Sutton: We look for anybody that can bring something new to the table. I encourage the officers to be problem solvers. 

Oprihory: And on a day-to-day basis, Chapman noted, the FBI Police culture is an incredibly supportive one. 

Chapman: We always check in on each other, and I think that that's been something that I've really appreciated and enjoyed. 

Oprihory: Once an applicant is hired, Sutton said, they go through intensive police training. 

Sutton: All FBI police officers attend the Uniform Police Training Program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. 

Oprihory: At a high level, Sutton says, this program teaches officers how to shoot, move, and communicate—as well as how to navigate the associated legal nuances. Think firearms training, defensive driving, fitness training, and lots of classroom time. Officers spend 12 weeks completing intense, daily training during the business week, with some downtime on the weekends. 

Sutton: But they train at night, early in the mornings, try to mimic all the circumstances that a police officer could encounter during their tour. 

Oprihory: Once officers graduate from that program, which is based in Brunswick, Georgia, they come to Washington, D.C., for field training. During this period, new FBI Police are paired with a field training officer for approximately five weeks. 

During or shortly after their field training, FBI Police who are slated to work in the nation’s capital then complete a course that certifies them to work as law enforcement officers within the District of Columbia.

Sutton: Once that's complete, they're considered trained for the purposes of being certified and working independently. But one more step we add to that is our Advanced Police Officer Training. 

Our training commander puts that together with his staff, and we have internal and external instructors that teach everything from care under fire, medical training to dignitary protection, crisis negotiations, advanced patrol rifle. 

Oprihory: They’re also training to navigate active shooter scenarios. 

Sutton: So all the skills that we need the officers to have. A lot of these skills are what we would call “low frequency, but high consequence” skills— 

Oprihory: Meaning that officers might not encounter the scenarios frequently, but if and when they do, it’s essential that they respond correctly. 

Oprihory: The FBI Police, just like the wider Bureau, is also committed to using partnerships to further our mission.

For example, Sutton regularly meets with the special agents who lead the field offices the FBI Police protect. He’s also in regular communication with his counterpart at the Department of Justice, and with local, state, and federal partners. Additionally, he meets with police chiefs from across the U.S. Intelligence Community and with government police chiefs from across the Washington, D.C. area. 

And, on a more personal note, it was a law enforcement partnership between his former police department and the FBI that led to his initial recruitment as a Bureau contractor. 

Sutton: As a Newport News police robbery detective, I made some relationships in the Norfolk FBI Division. A good friend of mine was a unit chief and based on my military and my police skills, thought I was a good fit. I found out about the FBI Police the first time I went to Quantico.  

Oprihory: Like other professional employees within the Bureau, FBI Police officers also have the opportunity to pursue collateral duties within the Bureau. These are extra responsibilities that they carry out in addition to their regular job duties. 

And one of these opportunities—serving on the FBI Honor Guard—is solely offered to FBI Police. The Bureau’s Honor Guard performs at official events, including those held annually during National Police Week, as well as at FBI funerals.  

Officer Chapman joined the Honor Guard this year.  

Chapman: We have a wonderful opportunity to provide for the Bureau and for the families of Bureau employees. It is nice to be able to get up there with the American flag and the FBI flag at all these wonderful events to really recognize people and give them a very unique experience. Just being able to show pride in what we do and do it to the best of our abilities has been a big win. 

Oprihory: But National Police Week isn’t just significant for members of the FBI Honor Guard. For the FBI Police and wider law enforcement community, it’s incredibly personal. 

Sutton: It's personal to me because I have a couple of friends on the wall down there. 

Oprihory: Sutton is referring to the FBI’s Wall of Honor, which pays homage to Bureau employees who’ve lost their lives in the line of duty or from illnesses connected to their jobs. 

Sutton: And we recently lost an officer. Lt. Tao—

Oprihory: That’s Lt. Yiu Tak “Lou” Tao, a supervisory FBI Police Officer who was based out of the FBI’s New York Office. Tao died in 2022 from complications of cancer that developed from his response to 9/11.

Sutton: You know, he was there in New York City—we have his shirt that's got the fuel stains of the jet on it—so it's personal to me.  

Oprihory: FBI Director Christopher Wray eulogized Tao at his memorial service in 2022

Sutton: But, you know, the events surrounding National Police Week have grown to recognize law enforcement across the country. All the agencies come and they participate, and all of our locations do something with Police Week. So it's really an honor to see all of that take place and see Americans come together to honor those that have given the ultimate sacrifice.  

Oprihory: Visit to learn more about career opportunities with the FBI Police. 

This has been another production of Inside the FBI. You can follow us on your favorite podcast player, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and YouTube. You can also subscribe to email alerts about new episodes at    

I’m Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory from the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs. Thanks for tuning in. 

[The track crescendoes a bit before fading out.]

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