It's a tough job, being an armed officer of the federal government. But some agencies have it harder than others. And it's not necessarily the ones you might think.
In January, the Department of Justice released figures on the number of assaults from 1991 to 1995 on federal officers who carry firearms and have arrest authority. As you might imagine, given the nature of their tasks and the criminal elements they contend with, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and the Drug Enforcement Administration were numbers two and three in number of assaults per 1,000 officers.
But number one might surprise you: the National Park Service, with 51.9 assaults per 1,000 officers--close to twice the rate for number-two BATF (29.6). The U.S. Secret Service and the FBI trailed far behind with rates of 14.5 and 3.5 per 1,000 respectively.
The National Park Service won't comment on why it has the highest assault rate. But a Justice Department spokesman has an explanation that suggests America's park goers may not be as well-mannered as its drug dealers and bootleggers: "I would imagine it's because the National Park Service has the most direct contact with the public," the spokesman says. "I imagine they have to approach the most people in public situations where they might be drunk and unruly."