CRIME TECHNOLOGY: Department of Defense Assistance to State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC GENERAL GOVERNMENT DIV
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Under long-standing law, the so-called Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 18 U.S.C. 1385 prohibits the use of the Departments of the Army or the Air Force to enforce the nations civilian laws except where specifically authorized by the Constitution or Congress. While the language of section 1385 lists only the Army and the Air Force, DOD has made the provisions of section 1385 applicable to the Department of the Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps through a DOD directive DOD Directive 5525.5, Jan. 15, 1986. Congress has enacted various pieces of legislation authorizing a military role in supporting civilian law enforcement agencies. For example, in the Department of Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Ye 1982 P.L. 97-86, Congress authorizes the Secretary of Defense to provide certain assistance-type activities for civilian law enforcement activities. This legislation also provided, however, that such U.S. military assistance does not include or permit participation in a search, seizure, arrest, or other similar activity, unless participation in such activity is otherwise authorized by law.
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