Smithsonian Police

The Smithsonian Institution Office of Protection Services is the guard force of the Smithsonian Institution.

It is a federal guard force consisting of 850 officers with very limited special police authority tasked with protecting visitors, staff, property, and grounds of the federally owned and managed Smithsonian Institution museums and research centers in Washington, D.C., New York City, at the 2,800 acre Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland as well as oversight of the security operations at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

Smithsonian Institution Office of Protection Services
Smithsonian Institution Office of Protection Services
Smithsonian Institution Office of Protection Services patch
Common nameSmithsonian Security Guards
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionUnited States
Constituting instrument
General nature



According to a 1978 report by the Comptroller General of the United States:

In 1882 the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds was authorized to employ four watchmen to protect the buildings and grounds of the Smithsonian. The powers and duties of the watchmen were the same as those of the District's Metropolitan Police. Pursuant to 40 U.S.C. 193n, the Smithsonian was authorized to employ special policemen to police the buildings and grounds of the Institution. The special police were authorized to concurrently enforce, with the United States Park Police, the laws and regulations of the National Capital Parks.

Law Enforcement Authority

According to the U.S Code (Title 40, Chapter 63, §6306), Smithsonian guards and National Zoo police officers are designated as special police. Subsection B outlines the powers of these special officers stating that they:

(1) may, within the specified buildings and grounds, enforce, and make arrests for violations of, sections 6302 and 6303 of this title, any regulation prescribed under section 6304 of this title, federal or state law, or any regulation prescribed under federal or state law; and

(2) may enforce concurrently with the United States Park Police the laws and regulations applicable to the National Capital Parks, and may make arrests for violations of sections 6302 and 6303 of this title, within the several areas located within the exterior boundaries of the face of the curb lines of the squares within which the specified buildings and grounds are located."[1]

As a uniformed force in accordance with subsection C, employees designated as special police for the Smithsonian "may be provided, without charge, with uniforms and other equipment as may be necessary for the proper performance of their duties, including badges, revolvers, and ammunition."[1]

The National Zoological Park Police being as a Federal Law Enforcement Agency that represents one of the five original full service police forces in the Washington District of Columbia share full police powers within the District of Columbia, in addition has a Congressional mandate in the form of a cooperative agreement with the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia to assist with law enforcement and crime prevention in a directed patrol areas in the Second, Third and Fourth Police Service areas around the National Zoological Park.[2]

Smithsonian Castle Doorway
The Smithsonian Institution Office of Protection protects 19 Smithsonian sites.


There are several position levels within the Office of Protection Services:

  • Smithsonian Museum protection officers are security officers that have been designated as "special police" under the US Code (Title 40, Chapter 63, §6306) and have limited police powers. They undergo training (that is limited and does not meet the standards of established police academies) in CPR, firearm use, arrest, handcuff procedures, and pepper spray use. They are assigned to one of nineteen Smithsonian museums or research sites in New York City, Maryland, Virginia, or the District of Columbia. There is also a specialized K-9 unit with bomb-detection dogs that patrol museum grounds. Officers utilize patrol vehicles for most sites in D.C. as well as ATV and Boats for the facility in Maryland.
  • Smithsonian Museum physical security specialists and Supervisory physical security specialists assist in overseeing the protection operations at individual sites.
United States National Zoological Park Police
National Zoological Park Police patch
  • US National Zoological Park Police officers are specifically assigned to the National Zoo and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. The National Zoological Park Police is one of the oldest police forces in the District of Columbia. According to the official National Zoo Website, the Zoological Police was one of the original five police agencies in D.C. created in 1889. The 163-acre (0.66 km2) National Zoo is a Smithsonian facility in the District of Columbia and is staffed 24 hours a day by full-time US National Zoological Park police officers. The National Zoo also maintains a 3200-acre Research facility (Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute; SCBI) in Front Royal, Virginia; which is staffed by members of the National Zoological Park Police. NZPP officers are Federal law enforcement officers and carry full law enforcement jurisdiction within the District of Columbia and Virginia that work closely with the Metropolitan Police Department and the US Park Police, as well as other federal law enforcement agencies to include Virginia Law Enforcement Authorities.[3]

Law Enforcement Union membership

Smithsonian Museum officers in New York state are members of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #38 while officers in the District of Columbia belong to the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 2463. The Fraternal Order of Police is a national labor union of law enforcement officers and agents.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-07-10. Retrieved 2010-07-13.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^,a,1242,q,547179,mpdcNav_GID,1541.asp
  3. ^ "Zoo Police, Security Director Spar Over Safety Needs", NBC 4, Kimberly Suiters/ASHA BEH, Apr. 28, 2009

External links

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is an art museum beside the National Mall, in Washington, D.C., the United States. The museum was initially endowed during the 1960s with the permanent art collection of Joseph H. Hirshhorn. It was designed by architect Gordon Bunshaft and is part of the Smithsonian Institution. It was conceived as the United States' museum of contemporary and modern art and currently focuses its collection-building and exhibition-planning mainly on the post–World War II period, with particular emphasis on art made during the last 50 years.The Hirshhorn is sited halfway between the Washington Monument and the US Capitol, anchoring the southernmost end of the so-called L'Enfant axis (perpendicular to the Mall's green carpet). The National Archives/National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden across the Mall, and the National Portrait Gallery/Smithsonian American Art building several blocks to the north, also mark this pivotal axis, a key element of both the 1791 city plan by Pierre L'Enfant and the 1901 MacMillan Plan.The building itself is an attraction, an open cylinder elevated on four massive "legs," with a large fountain occupying the central courtyard. Before architect Gordon Bunshaft designed the building, the Smithsonian staff reportedly told him that, if it did not provide a striking contrast to everything else in the city, then it would be unfit for housing a modern art collection.

Law enforcement in New York City

Law enforcement in New York City is carried out by numerous law enforcement agencies. New York City has the highest concentration of law enforcement agencies in the United States.

As with the rest of the US, agencies operate at federal and state levels. However, New York City's unique nature means many more operate at lower levels.

List of federal agencies in the United States

Legislative definitions of a federal agency are varied, and even contradictory, and the official United States Government Manual offers no definition. While the Administrative Procedure Act definition of "agency" applies to most executive branch agencies, Congress may define an agency however it chooses in enabling legislation, and subsequent litigation, often involving the Freedom of Information Act and the Government in the Sunshine Act. These further cloud attempts to enumerate a list of agencies.The executive branch of the federal government includes the Executive Office of the President and the United States federal executive departments (whose secretaries belong to the Cabinet). Employees of the majority of these agencies are considered civil servants.

The majority of the independent agencies of the United States government are also classified as executive agencies (they are independent in that they are not subordinated under a Cabinet position). There are a small number of independent agencies that are not considered part of the executive branch, such as the Library of Congress and Congressional Budget Office, administered directly by Congress and thus are legislative branch agencies.

List of law enforcement agencies in Long Island

The List of Long Island law enforcement agencies provides an inclusive list of law enforcement agencies serving New York's Long Island. This includes those agencies serving the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens on the western portion of Long Island along with those serving the suburban counties of Nassau County and Suffolk County.

List of law enforcement agencies in the District of Columbia

This is a list of law enforcement agencies in the District of Columbia.

According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics' 2008 Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, the District had four local law enforcement agencies employing 4,262 sworn police officers, about 722 for each 100,000 residents. This is the highest proportion of police officers to citizens of any state or territory.

National Museum of African Art

The National Museum of African Art is the Smithsonian Institution's African art museum, located on the National Mall of the United States capital. Its collections include 9,000 works of traditional and contemporary African art from both Sub-Saharan and Arab North Africa, 300,000 photographs, and 50,000 library volumes. It was the first institution dedicated to African art in the United States, and remains the largest collection. The Washington Post called the museum a mainstay in the international art world and the main venue for contemporary African art in the United States.

The museum was founded in 1964 by a Foreign Service officer and layman who bought African art objects in Germany and multiple houses in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in which to display them. The collection focused on traditional African art and an educational mission to teach black cultural heritage. To ensure the museum's longevity, the founder lobbied the national legislature to adopt the museum under the Smithsonian's auspices. It joined the Smithsonian in 1979 and became the National Museum of African Art two years later. A new, mostly underground museum building was completed in 1987, just off the National Mall and adjacent to other Smithsonian museums. It is among the Smithsonian's smallest museums.

The African art museum took a scholarly direction over the next twenty years, with less social programming. It collected traditional and contemporary works of historical importance. Exhibitions include works both internal and borrowed, and have ranged from solo artist to broad, survey shows. The museum hosts two to three temporary exhibitions and ten special events annually. Reviewers criticized the National Mall building's architecture, particularly its lack of natural light. The museum is scheduled for remodeling as part of the Smithsonian's upcoming South Mall project.

National Museum of Natural History

The National Museum of Natural History is a natural history museum administered by the Smithsonian Institution, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., United States. It has free admission and is open 364 days a year. In 2016, with 7.1 million visitors, it was the fourth most visited museum in the world and the most visited natural history museum in the world. Opened in 1910, the museum on the National Mall was one of the first Smithsonian buildings constructed exclusively to hold the national collections and research facilities. The main building has an overall area of 1,500,000 square feet (140,000 m2) with 325,000 square feet (30,200 m2) of exhibition and public space and houses over 1,000 employees.The museum's collections contain over 126 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, human remains, and human cultural artifacts. It is also home to about 185 professional natural history scientists—the largest group of scientists dedicated to the study of natural and cultural history in the world.

National Portrait Gallery (United States)

The National Portrait Gallery is a historic art museum located between 7th, 9th, F, and G Streets NW in Washington, D.C., in the United States. Founded in 1962 and opened to the public in 1968, it is part of the Smithsonian Institution. Its collections focus on images of famous Americans. The museum is housed in the historic Old Patent Office Building, as is the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The two museums are the eponym for the Gallery Place Washington Metro station, located at the corner of F and 7th Streets NW.

STEM in 30

STEM in 30 is an online educational program produced by the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. hosted by Marty Kelsey and Beth Wilson. Each episode is typically 30 minutes and features special guests and different science, math, engineering or technology topics. Since first broadcasting in 2014, the program has covered dozens of topics including the NASA's Apollo program, Tuskegee Airmen, astronaut training, the Wright brothers and the Orion program. The first four seasons of the show were broadcast live with a student audience. With its fifth season, STEM in 30 has switched its format to a pre-taped show with a live question and answer session about that months topic with an expert a week later.

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (or Wilson Center), located in Washington, D.C., is a United States Presidential Memorial that was established as part of the Smithsonian Institution by an act of Congress in 1968. It is also a highly recognized think tank, ranked among the top ten in the world.Named in honor of President Woodrow Wilson, the only President of the United States to hold a PhD, its mission is "to commemorate the ideals and concerns of Woodrow Wilson by: providing a link between the world of ideas and the world of policy; and fostering research, study, discussion, and collaboration among a full spectrum of individuals concerned with policy and scholarship in national and world affairs."In 2019, the Wilson Center was ranked by the University of Pennsylvania's Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program as the 11th best think tank in the world, the number five think tank in the U.S., and the world's top think tank for regional studies and institutional collaboration.

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