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Hi all,

I currently work on the support staff for a prosecutor’s office here in MA but I am more interested in a sworn law enforcement career. Right now I am trying to decide if I am more interested in a career in a federal agency or local police. Thus far I’ve looked into agencies like NCIS, OSI, Army OIG, and HSI and into non-civil service departments in greater Boston. I see advantages and disadvantages to each but was hoping others could weigh in. People who have chosen one or the other or have done both, is there anything in particular that I should consider when thinking about which to pursue?
 

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Good luck with federal. Those agencies hire infrequently and you won't be stationed in Boston as your first duty station.
Not necessarily. The Feds are desperate like every other LE agency out there these days, and are willing to negotiate.

A friend of mine recently got on USSS and was able to get Boston as his guaranteed duty station after graduation.
 

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Not necessarily. The Feds are desperate like every other LE agency out there these days, and are willing to negotiate.

A friend of mine recently got on USSS and was able to get Boston as his guaranteed duty station after graduation.
Maybe at first but he’s going to have to a protection detail for 2-3 years in DC. Nobody in the USSS gets around that. You start at a field office in investigations, then do a round in protective detail and then you get to choose whether you want to go back to investigations or stay in a protective detail. No getting around having to go to DC though.

OP, I have a unique perspective since I was BPD now I’m OIG. OIG is a dream job and I was fortunate to get in, but OIG positions are very hard to get without certain experience or internships in that particular OIG
 

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The day-to-day is very different between federal agencies, and even more different between most federal agencies and local police work. Local uniformed police work is (or perhaps ought to be) about being close to the community, proactive when possible but often reactive, visible, and accessible. Most federal agents work long-term, proactive cases where most of what they do is planned in advance, and mostly hidden from public view. Usually, that means much better work-life balance compared to shift work, but it also usually means less excitement and running around.

Assuming you want a plainclothes special agent job, USSS, NCIS, OSI, Army CID, and DSS will all force you to move several times in your career. Same with FBI, although if you want NYC, you can usually stay there. Most other federal agencies will also make agents sign mobility agreements, but rarely use them. HSI and many small agencies (including most OIGs) fall into that category. ATF is known for pretty good locations and putting a lot of new hires where they want to be. Very few agencies won't even make you sign a mobility agreement at all, but getting one of those jobs in a place you want is truly a long shot.

One big thing to consider for federal LE is "stopping the clock" for the special LE retirement system that requires you to get hired before turning 37. Jobs that are generally easier to get than a special agent job that also get you in the federal LE retirement system include: BOP correctional officer, Border Patrol agent, CBP OFO officer, USSS UD officer, National Park Service LE ranger, US Park Police officer, US Probation officer, and federal air marshal.

If you want to be in LE, possibly federal, and location matters most to you, get on with a local or state agency and keep applying to federal jobs in your area.
 

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Go federal. I was federal for several years and was convinced to leave the feds because I was told benefits were better state wide. They are not,feds are extremely better health care, vision, life, disability , to include a 401k with 5% match, pension, and guaranteed pay raises throughout your career.
 

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Go federal. I was federal for several years and was convinced to leave the feds because I was told benefits were better state wide. They are not,feds are extremely better health care, vision, life, disability , to include a 401k with 5% match, pension, and guaranteed pay raises throughout your career.
In Mass? My brother is USMS 20 something years and he's always telling me I have it better than him pay and pension-wise.
 

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Like anything else in life, it all depends on what your perspective is and what you want.

An acquaintance I used to work with on my department always wanted to work at the FBI. After 5 years with us, he got his wish and went over to them. They sent him to an Indian reservation in northern Minnesota, not where he wanted to be. He eventually worked his way back to Los Angeles.

We got together when he got back and he told me that he had made the biggest mistake of his professional life by going to them. He said he missed the "action" and the spontaneity of working the big city and didn't really enjoy the type of work the FBI did. The only reason he stayed and didn't come back to us is because he made it onto their regional SWAT team, which he liked doing.

Federal policing is very different from municipal policing. I know I wouldn't want to do it but it's whatever works for you. There's something for everyone.
 

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No the pension for federal is nowhere near as good as what I would have got had I stayed city. FERS isn’t that great, definitely not compared to city pensions in MA
The Democrats (you know, the party that’s “for the blue collar working man”) are slowly chipping away at public pensions. Group 4 you now need 34 years and age 57, up from 32/55. You can bet your ass they’ll be coming after even more soon.
 

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Negative, recent hires are now 34/57.
Incorrect. The minimum retirement age to receieve a mamimum (80%) allowance was increased to 57 from 55 for Group 4. The years of service did not increase, still 32 years. The other changes in 2012 were the calculation method (5 year average instead of 3) and the anti-spiking provisions. I deal with this stuff all the time.


Cambridge has a pretty good chart, this is for post April 2012 hires.

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In Mass? My brother is USMS 20 something years and he's always telling me I have it better than him pay and pension-wise.
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USMS are 13’s after 5 years. Most fed Leo’s start as a 7 then go automatic from 7,9,11,12. Then after 11 you get 25% on your salary automatic for being a “criminal investigator”. Those 12-13 pay levels look great just base no OT, no 10% 6p-6a pay or 20% Sunday pay.
We can make crazy money in mass by working details but my own opinion feds where it’s at.
 
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