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The Federal Reserve Has Its Own Police and Is Part of a Vast Surveillance Center – Should You Worry?

Published: June 16, 2020
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Former Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly Inside the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center

Without any Congressional hearings on the matter, the USA Patriot Act in 2001 bestowed on the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks domestic policing powers. While the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, D.C. is deemed an “independent federal agency,” with its Chair and Governors appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, the 12 regional Fed banks are private corporations owned by the member banks in their region. As settled law under John L. Lewis v. United States confirms: “Each Federal Reserve Bank is a separate corporation owned by commercial banks in its region.”

In the case of the New York Fed, which is located in the Wall Street area of Manhattan, its largest shareowners are behemoth multinational banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. So what the USA Patriot Act effectively did was to give multinational corporations domestic policing powers in New York City via the New York Fed.

Section 364 of the USA Patriot Act reads as follows:

“Law enforcement officers designated or authorized by the Board or a reserve bank under paragraph (1) or (2) are authorized while on duty to carry firearms and make arrests without warrants for any offense against the United States committed in their presence…Such officers shall have access to law enforcement information that may be necessary for the protection of the property or personnel of the Board or a reserve bank.”

The Fed’s police officers are technically known as FRLEO, short for Federal Reserve Law Enforcement Officer. The system has its own police academies for training, their own patch and badges, uniforms, pistols, rifles, police cars and the power to arrest coast to coast without a warrant. They have ranks of Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain and a recruitment ad campaign with the slogan: “It’s about respect and recognition from your peers. It’s you.” We found current job openings for the St. Louis Fedthe San Francisco Fed, and the Dallas Fed.

According to a former St. Louis Federal Reserve Law Enforcement Training Instructor, the officers are trained on pistol, rifle, auto-rifle, sub-gun and shotgun.

A previous recruitment ad for the Richmond Fed indicated that their police would have access to the nation’s criminal databases: “The Law Enforcement Unit has an immediate opening for a Communications Center Operator, reporting to the Center leadership team in Richmond, Virginia…[the officer will query] “information from a variety of law enforcement data bases for information, wants/warrants, intelligence, driver’s license and vehicle information, etc.”

Having access to the nation’s criminal databases is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the New York Fed, which has its own brass name plate and staffer located inside one of the most sophisticated surveillance centers in the U.S., sitting alongside New York City police (NYPD) personnel and the New York Fed’s largest owners: there are also brass name plates for staffers from Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and the New York Stock Exchange. Never mind that JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup have plead guilty to felonies and Goldman Sachs is currently attempting to negotiate its way out of a felony count. (More on this below.)

The surveillance facility quietly resides in downtown Manhattan and is called the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center. More than 8,000 surveillance cameras owned by the city as well as by private corporations feed images of the comings and goings of law-abiding citizens onto the monitoring screens in the center on a 24/7 basis. It is known that the center deploys video analytics which can, for example, track a person based on the color of their hat or jacket as well as live feeds from license plate readers. The Brennan Center for Justice has compiled a list of other highly sophisticated surveillance systems deployed by the NYPD. It is not known to what extent these are being used at the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center.

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