Federal Protective Service Officer

The Federal Protective Service is the law enforcement and on-site security division of the Department of Homeland Security. Federal Protective Service employees are primarily concerned with providing security, surveillance and law enforcement services in and around the over 9,000 federal buildings located throughout the U.S. They also provide security during key events administered by the state, such as foreign dignitary visits or public appearances of prominent government workers.

Since being moved into the DHS, the Federal Protective Service (FPS) has relied more on private security contracting companies to provide most of the workforce in posted security positions tasked with patrolling and screening at federal buildings. FPS law enforcement security officers (LESOs) became a smaller group of highly-trained individuals responsible for policing groups of buildings within an area, providing overarching security strategies and risk management and responding to incidents as needed. Only around 900 full-time LESOs are employed at any given time, thus increasing the expertise and qualifications expected of LESO candidates.

What Does a Federal Protective Service Officer Do?

The Federal Protective Service career website lists 12 primary duties that Law Enforcement Security Officers perform:

  • Providing uniformed police response to incidents and investigative follow-up
  • Overseeing contract hiring for posted security guards
  • Providing critical logistical support and security services during high-profile public events
  • Analyzing federal facilities for security vulnerabilities
  • Creating protective countermeasures that reduce risk of incidents
  • Overseeing the installation of security systems that can include entry control systems and alarm systems as well as x-ray and magnetometer equipment
  • Ensuring proper performance of security technology and personnel, as well as monitoring for security breaches
  • Hazardous materials management, response and interdiction, including training
  • Managing K9 teams as part of explosive detection operations
  • Planning, coordinating and implementing emergency services and disaster response in the event of natural disasters
  • Training federal building tenants and contract security guards, including conducting facility security surveys and crime prevention seminars
  • Intelligence-gathering and monitoring of daily facility operations

In addition to LESOs, the FPS employs criminal investigators who specialize in follow-up and evidence gathering for incidents that have occurred. FPS criminal investigators also collaborate with other agencies like the FBI to gather intelligence and implement countermeasures for potential security threats to federal buildings.

Where Does a Federal Protective Service Officer Work?

The majority of FPS LESOs are stationed in Washington D.C. near the clusters of federal buildings. FPS operations also oversee federally owned or leased buildings in 10 other regions across America, with main offices in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, MO, Grand Prairie, TX, Denver, San Francisco, and Federal Way, WA.

Within the regions surrounding these main offices, LESOs may be responsible for clusters of buildings in one general locality or regional oversight across a broad area of several smaller cities and towns.

Federal Protective Service Officer Salaries & Job Outlook

Federal Protective Service security offices (LESOs) are paid according to the GS-9, GS-11 or GS-12 pay levels. These annual salaries correspond to $35,009, $51,811 and $62,101, respectively. Pay depends on level of professional experience and/or education level.Federal contractor positions working underneath the FPS vary, but can range between $20,000 and $38,000 a year or more.

Additional Careers in Law Enforcement

Consider these additional careers in law enforcement.

Police Officer
Crime Scene Investigator
FBI Agent
Game Warden
Police Detective
Private Investigator
State Trooper
U.S. Marshal