When you're in a protest situation that could become volatile, it is important to keep an eye on the police in the area and know who they are. Most law enforcement agents can be identified by the agency patch on their left shoulder, and by the badge and ID number on their chest. As the federal capital, DC is host to a huge variety of police agencies, protective services, and intelligence operatives. There are dozens of polices forces working in DC!  Below is a list of the most important ones.

  • Metropolitan Police Department - DC's largest, omnipresent police force. They have a presence at almost every protest in the city, except those on Capitol grounds, and are usually wearing dark blue uniforms. They also have jurisdiction over the street in between the White House and Lafayette Park - Lafayette Park is under under Park Police jurisdiction.
  • Metro Transit Police - This agency has jurisdiction in DC, MD, and VA and is responsible for keeping us in line on the Metro. They patrol Metro stations and trains, frequently in plainclothes.
  • Capitol Police - Responsible for the Capitol, Congressional offices and surrounding buildings. Doesn't have to follow the same rules the MPD does about allowing protests without a permit or giving warnings before arrests. They have the most experience arresting people for civil disobedience, so they tend to be quick and a bit a rough, but they are usually prompt about processing and releasing people.
  • Park Police - This agency watches over the city's parks and monuments, including the National Mall and Lafayette Park. They usually wear a white or light blue top, and frequently ride around on bikes on horses. 
  • Secret Service Uniformed Division - These folks provide security for the White House Complex, vice president's house, the Department of the Treasury, and foreign embassies. They wear dark blue or black uniforms usually, but sometimes wear white shirts in hot weather. They are heavily armed and very rarely have a sense of humor, at least while on duty.
  • FBI Police - This small division of the FBI is responsible for guarding FBI personnel and facilities, including the D.C. field office, the Hoover Building, the Washington Field Office, and the FBI Academy and Laboratory at Quantico. 
  • CIA Security Protective Service - The SPS is responsible for guarding CIA personnel, facilities and information in the District and elsewhere.
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement - ICE has been known to show up at anti-war, immigrant rights, police brutality and other protests. We're not really sure why.  If you or your friends are undocumented or at risk of deportation, please be careful. 
  • AFRH-W Police - The AFRH-W is tied to the Department of Defense and draws on federal officers, investigators and service contractors to provide police services to veteran retirement homes.
  • Bureau of Engraving and Printing Police - BEP Police are tied to the Department of Treasury and is responsible for enforcing federal and municipal laws pertaining to the Treasury.
  • Pentagon Police - Established in 2002 as a response to 9/11 to protect the areas surrounding the Pentagon.
  • Naval District Washington Police - This police division specifically oversees the various naval offices (ie. naval base, research laboratory, observatory, etc)
  • Supreme Court of the US Police - SCUSP is a small law enforcement agency to provide protection of the US Supreme Court building and surrounding areas.
  • US Dept. of Homeland Security Federal Protective Service - The FPS is responsible for policing, securing and ensuring that federal agencies can conduct their business with minimal interferance.
  • State Department Police - This division is responsible for protecting the State Department building and surrounding areas.
  • Housing Police
  • Amtrak Police
  • Zoo Police
  • GSA Police
  • Military Police
  • NIH Police
  • Postal Police
  • Government Printing Police
  • Veteran's Administration Police
  • Library of Congress Police
  • US Mint Police