Law Enforcement: Comparison of the FBI and the Korean NIS


For as long as human societies have been in existence, organizations have played a great role in civilization. Even before the birth of Christ, the Romans had complex bureaucracies. Further down the history line, the Greeks also exhibited forms of organizational structures. Similarly, these structures have remained to this moment. This paper will identify the organizational structure of the American law enforcement system then make a comparison and contrast of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Korean National Intelligence System.

Main text

In the early 1900s, the United States experienced a professional revolution where many of the Institutions were subjected to progressive reforms to ensure that job specialization, meritorious hiring and promotion, and discipline that was consistent with the rules were reinforced. Among the institutions that benefited from this movement was the American law enforcement system. Professionalism was instilled while performance standards were introduced through the use of adequate training. Among the most prominent advocates for these changes in the law enforcement system were August Vollmer, V. Leonard, and O. Wilson (Conser et al, 2005, p. 115). Under the advocacy of these influential people, the law enforcement system in the United States embraced new management styles that included scientific management as pointed out in scholarly literature from contributors like Max Weber. This involved a hierarchical structure that exhibited a clear line of authority, facilitated communication channels from the top to the bottom and vice versa, and above all a structure that would facilitate hiring and promotion that was based on a person’s merit and how productive he was.

It was from these specifications that the American Law Enforcement system was developed. Conser et al (2005) point out that the law enforcement system in America is generally headed by the Superintendent of Police. He is at the helm of the bureaucratic structure and hence the zenith of power within the structure. Under him are numerous assistant and deputy superintendants including Chief of Staff, General Counsel to the Superintendent, the Superintendent’s Administrative Assistant, Office of News Affairs Director, Office of Management Accountability Deputy Superintendent, Internal Affairs Division Assistant Deputy Superintendent, and Office of Professional Standards Administrator. These form the second line of management and power. Further down the line is another horizontal stratum of Bureau of Operational Sevices First Deputy Superintendent, the Bureau of Investigative Services Deputy Superintendent, Bureau of Technical Services Deputy Superintendent, Bureau of Staff Services Deputy Superintendent, and Bureau of Administrative Services Deputy Superintendent. Each of these deputies and assistants heads various departments which in return have a characteristic line of leadership (Conser et al, 2005, p. 116).

Under the Bureau of Operational Services First Deputy Superintendent, the second in line is the Patrol division Chief, followed by the Operations Commander, the Assistant Deputy Superintendent, Special Events and Liaison Section Commander, and finally the Detached Services Unit Commanding Officer. Under the Bureau of Investigative Services Deputy Superintendent, there is the Detective Division Chief and the Organized Crime Division Chief. Next, the Bureau of Technical Services Deputy Superintendent is followed in power by the General Support Division Commander, then the electronic and motor maintenance Division Director, Technical Assistance Response Unit Commander, and finally the Evidence and Recovered Property Section Commander. Under the bureau of Staff services, Deputy Superintendent is the Education and Training Division Assistance Deputy Superintendent, Management and Labor Affairs Section Commander, Preventive Programs and Neighborhood Relations Division Commander, Professional Counseling Services Director, and finally the Chaplain’s Section. Lastly, the Bureau of Administrative Services Deputy Superintendent is followed down the bureaucratic line by the Personnel Division Commander, Finance Division Director, Information Services Division Director, Records Services Division Director, and Strategic Services Division Director respectively (Conser et al, 2005, p. 116).

This marks the structure of the law enforcement system in the United States of America. However, this paper will put more emphasis on the FBI, its structure, and how it compares to the Korean National Intelligence Service. To begin with, the paper shall identify the History of the FBI, its departments, and what they do.

In 1908, Attorney General Charles Bonaparte formed a group of special agents. This was a group of corps that was placed under the Department of Justice. Initially, the group, referred to as the Special Agents had no formal structure or leadership structure. They were under the Attorney General. This marked the birth of the FBI. Later, President Roosevelt played an important role in the formation of the Special Agents decided to come up with a force of investigators who had expertise and discipline. By and by, the Department of Justice continued to use the investigative services of this new group of investigators. Initially, the dedicated investigators had to report to the Chief of Secret Service but later, Congressional decisions changed this and barred the Justice Department from interfering with the affairs of the Secret service. In June 1908, the Attorney General, Bonaparte appointed 34 Special Agents from the Secret Service and others from the Justice Department. The Chief Examiner was designed to be the recipient of all reports from these agents. Under the recommendation of Bonaparte and President Roosevelt, the Agents were given a permanent role to play in the Justice Department. In March 1909, the group of 34 special agents was renamed the Bureau of Investigation. The head was then named the Chief of the Bureau of Investigation (Charles, 2007, p. 24).

Currently, the FBI is a well-established institution under the Department of Justice. Their mission is “to protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of the United States, and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to federal, state, municipal, and international agencies and partners” (FBI, 2009, par. 3) As their role, the FBI ensures that they terrorist threats are contained in the United States. Apart from guarding the country against espionage, the FBI also ensures that other intelligence operations from foreign countries are kept at bay. It is also the role of the FBI to ensure that America is well protected from cyber-oriented crimes and other high-tech crimes. Fighting corruption is another role of the FBI. They engage in controlling corruption from all levels of public service. The FBI also ensures that all criminal organizations within and beyond the national boundaries are combated. In addition, it is the role of the FBI to ensure that white-collar crimes and other violent crimes are contained. The FBI also ensures cooperation with other national and international bodies to ensure that the named responsibilities are well addressed. Finally, the FBI engages in technological upgrading to ensure that they are well versed with every likely hood of high-tech attacks.

On the other hand, the National Intelligence Service was formed in 1961 under the name Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA). They had a general role in ensuring security and development for the country. This was to be achieved through the coordination of all activities aimed at fighting crime and facilitating intelligence both within and beyond the borders. The organization was a repercussion of the military coup of 1961 and hence part of the reconciliation strategy. This point marks one of the major similarities between the NIS and the FBI. They both share a similar mission which is protecting their respective countries from crime and offering intelligence services (Intelligence Resource Program, 2009, par. 5).

In 1981, the KCIA changed its name to Agency for National Security Planning (ANSP). Despite the change of name, this organization maintained most of the former characteristics (Intelligence Resource Program, 2009, par. 8). It was a very important part of the government and it reported directly to the President. This marks one of the differences between the FBI and the NIS. As pointed out, the FBI reported its matters to the Chief of the Bureau of Investigation while the NIS reports to the President. During the renaming and the redefinition of the NIS roles, collecting and redistributing of information, both internal and external concerning the public’s safety and chances of overthrowing the government was an added obligation to the NIS. This identifies both a similarity and a difference between the FBI and the NIS. While one of the fundamental roles of the NIS was ensuring that no other coup is organized- because the country was undergoing economic and political instability, the FBI was purely formed to ensure the security of the American public.

In the early 90s, the NIS was met with great public criticism. This was a result of their deep involvement in national politics. In addition, they were accused of their roles in human rights violations. This led to the disbandment of some of their departments like the ANSP Information Coordination Committee (Intelligence Resource Program, 2009, par. 9). This issue of controversy was also experienced by the FBI. During its formation, there were several objections. Initially, the States usually relied on their respective States to meet their personal needs. Very few matters required international intervention. Therefore, the inter-boundary role of the FBI had equally stirred controversy. It is therefore notable that both organizations were faced with controversies at some points in their operations.

Finally, the roles of the NIS eventually identify another similarity between the FBI and the NIS. The first role of the NIS is to keep the nation safe from crimes that are deemed potentially jeopardizing national security. Among these crimes are those that are aimed at violating the Military Secrecy Protection Law, those likely to cause a civil war, insurrections, et cetera. The NIS also investigates crimes that are related to its staff. Furthermore, the organization ensures that all materials containing intelligence information worth national concern are well kept and maintained. Finally, the organization ensures that information concerning national security is well planned and coordinated (Federal Bureau of investigation, 2009, par 5).

In conclusion, the two organizations have been integral parts of their respective governments’ security matters. This is attributed to their roles in collecting information within and beyond the national borders. In addition, they both coordinate their intelligence activities with other national and international players to ensure that their national securities are guaranteed. However, a few differences are also visible through their main objectives. For instance, the FBI emphasized national security while the NIS emphasized not just their national security but also protection of the government from possible coups and also protection from communist ideas.

Reference List

Charles,M. (2007). J. Edgar Hoover and the Anti-interventionists: FBI Political Surveillance and the Rise of the Domestic Security State, 1939–1945. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press.

Conser, J., Russell, G. and Paynich, R. (2005). Law Enforcement in the United States. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

National Bureau of Investigation. (2009). History of the FBI. Web.

Intelligence Resource Program. (2009). National Intelligence Services.

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DemoEssays. 2022. "Law Enforcement: Comparison of the FBI and the Korean NIS." December 31, 2022.

1. DemoEssays. "Law Enforcement: Comparison of the FBI and the Korean NIS." December 31, 2022.


DemoEssays. "Law Enforcement: Comparison of the FBI and the Korean NIS." December 31, 2022.