It's a common thing you see in TV shows and movies. Some crazy crime takes place. There's a self loathing detective or sheriff in charge of the investigation, and suddenly the FBI appears. Once the FBI shows up, they take over. How true is that in reality though?
Does the FBI take over cases from sheriffs and local law enforcement?
Will FBI Take A Case Away From Local Law Enforcement?
Recently, some coworkers and I were discussing old murder cases in Texas and someone joked about the FBI coming in and taking over. I don't remember the joke, only that it landed flat and nobody laughed. We just awkwardly stared at each other for a minute.
It did make me wonder, though. How often does that happen in real life?
Because I've seen it in TV shows and movies, I assumed it probably happens. I also assumed that local law enforcement officers throw their little Styrofoam cups of coffee while cursing the fact that the big dogs from DC have come-a-callin'.
I watch a lot of TV.
The Answer Probably Isn't What You Expect
Deciding that the best source of information would be the "horse's mouth," so to speak, I consulted the FBI's website. Turns out the FBI has a FAQ section. This question happens to be one of the ones in that very FAQ section.
According to the FBI website, the answer is a very simple...no. Of course they would say that.
They do elaborate a bit after simply saying "No." They do state that they pool resources with state and local law enforcement agencies to investigate crimes and solve cases. In fact, they even point out that local and state law enforcement agencies aren't even subordinate to the FBI. The FBI, according to the FBI, doesn't supervise or take over.
So much for the "FBI stole our investigation" trope. Now, what about the X Files?