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Prior to 1971 the General Service Administration’s (GSA) United States Special Policeman (USSP) conducted law enforcement, safety and security functions at the Pentagon. The protection programs were primarily a “guard-watchman” operation, where USSP were primarily concerned with the protection of property. However, in response to a growing number of disruptive incidents throughout the country affecting federal facilities under GSA control, attention to the security program had to be re-examined. As a result of mass demonstrations, bombings and bomb threats within the country and region, the Federal Protective Service (FPS) was established and the comprehensive protection of Pentagon personnel rather than the previous policy of concentration on property were developed.

On October 1, 1987, the GSA Administrator delegated authority for protecting the Pentagon Reservation to the Department of Defense (DoD). In order to carry out the new mission, DoD established the Defense Protective Service (DPS) as a new organization within the Washington Headquarters Service (WHS).

The DPS Chief of Police managed this organization under delegations of authority from the Secretary of Defense down the chain-of-command through the Director of Washington Headquarters Service and the Director of Pentagon Real Estate and Facilities (RE&F). The Chief of Police and Assistant Chief of Police directed the development of the current police force. Several DPS elements including the Emergency Response Team, the Protective Service Unit, the Mobile Command Post, and K-9 section have recently received a high degree of recognition by law enforcement agencies across the nation. The recognitions received were mainly attributed to the dynamic leadership displayed by the Chief and Asst. Chief in response to the terrorist attack on the Pentagon and the result of magnificent and dynamic law enforcement consequence management after the attack. DPS played a pivotal role in the "9-11" investigation, one of the United States most complex law enforcement challenges ever attempted. The highly coordinated efforts involved practically every federal, civilian and military law enforcement agency.