|A few of our members with one checking out a shield|
Last week our Sisters in Crime chapter had a visit from two FBI agents. It was an informative and interesting evening, and we learned much from Lisa and Jeff, the agents who came.
Actually, it wasn’t the first time I was visited by FBI.
|Mary with daffodils instead of kittens|
One day when three of my children were in school and only my preschool daughter Mary was at home, two FBI agents knocked on my door and showed me their ID’s. They were looking for information on the bank robbers who had robbed a bank about fifteen miles away. It seems that the robbers had come in through the roof using antenna wire to slide down to enter. My husband had a business on the side from his regular job of installing antennas, back in the day when no one had cable service. He was at work at his regular job so they said they’d come back later. One of the agents commented about one of three kittens Mary was holding. She asked him if he’d like to have one.
“Won’t you feel sad about giving them away?” he asked. She told him no, because Checkers would grow more kittens in the attic. She was an inside/outside cat and twice a year, she had three kittens in the attic accessed through the garage. The FBI agents returned that evening and checked out my husband’s antenna van. Apparently they decided he wasn’t the guilty one because we never heard from them again.
At our SinC monthly meeting, Lisa, a member of our chapter and an FBI agent, brought a young FBI agent named Jeff, to talk to us. It was a lively meeting where we learned a lot of information about what the FBI does. We asked many questions and got lots of answers. We found out the FBI helps local police forces if they’re asked.
Jeff works for an FBI Swat Team. He not only talked about some of the things he has done as a member, but showed us what they called their toys - things like a “flash bomb,” his vest, shield, helmet, and a backpack loaded down with necessary items. Oh my, was it heavy. We all took turns trying to lift it. He brought in unloaded guns to show us and let us look through a night vision scope, too. We were fascinated not only by his equipment, but different stories he had to tell about the Swat team’s negotiations with someone holed up with maybe a hostage, or wanted for a murder, and the take downs he’d participated in, too. He talked of other Swat team events as well. Bullet proof vests and all, it’s a dangerous job.
I asked what a “flash bomb,” was. Jeff said before going into a room where someone could be standing around the corner out of view, they first look in to see if there’s a child or a hostage in there before throwing in a flash bomb that looks like a skinny grenade. It explodes with a loud sound that shakes the room and a bright flash that would temporarily blind anyone in room, but wouldn’t seriously injure or kill anyone. If they were too close, they might get a mild burn.
The first stationed FBI agents came to Cleveland in the earliest years of the organization. By 1914 they had a bureau office in with a special agent. Over the years the Cleveland FBI agency has grown through wars, prohibition, anti-war marches and other challenges into what it is today.
The Cleveland Division Joint Terrorism Task Force was created in 1998 and has strengthened following the 911 attacks. They investigate National Security Priorities such as protecting the U.S. from a terrorist attack, against foreign intelligence operations and espionage, and cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes. Working with over 40 local, state and federal agencies, they run down any and all terrorism leads as well as develop and investigate cases and provide support for special events. They work at cutting off terrorist funding as well as sharing information with partners worldwide. They also have satellite Joint Terrorism Task Forces working out of Akron, Canton and Toledo.
Today, more foreign spies are trying to steal more of our secrets from more places than ever before. What they want is our country’s juiciest classified information, from military plans to national security vulnerabilities of our own intelligence activities.
The FBI takes care of criminal priorities, like combating corruption by public officials at all levels which might involve bribery, antirust, environmental crimes, election fraud and other crimes that fall in this category. In Cleveland, they have a dedicated foreign counterintelligence squad that works to keep weapons of mass destruction and other enhanced technologies into falling into the wrong hands.
Lisa Kaplan works in the Civil Rights unit. The FBI is the lead agency for investigating violations against civil rights. They take seriously their duty to protect against hate crimes, color of law abuses, human trafficking, and freedom of access to clinic entrances violation. This also includes pornography, especially child pornography.
The Cleveland FBI also combats transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises, from mob families. Mostly they focus on violent street gangs and drug trafficking by working with various other law enforcement agencies.
Today the Cleveland FBI has two squads dedicated to fighting the white-collar crime. One focuses on general fraud, and one focuses on health care fraud.
And, of course, the Cleveland FBI combat significant violent crime in Cleveland and other local communities. They especially focus on issues like crimes against children (including online predators) the search for wanted fugitives, serial killings, kidnapping, murder for hire, bank robberies and special crimes like the carriage of weapons on aircraft and crime on the high seas. Yes, they have a unit trained to take care of crime on local waterways including Lake Erie.
So who are the FBI agents? What background do you need to become an FBI agent? Well, according to Jeff they come from all fields. He has a degree in accounting and first started as an agent dealing with that kind of crime until he transferred to Cleveland to work with the Swat team. Lisa is a lawyer. According to the two of them, the FBI agents come from a huge variety of various professions before they joined the FBI. It makes sense, doesn’t it, to have such a wide variety of different skills.
As for me, I admire the work they do, and I’m glad we have such a versatile law enforcement unit.
What contacts have you had with the FBI?
Would you like to be an FBI agent?