A Howard Watson Intrigue

Me and the Female Agents

“What’s it like working with women FBI Agents?” 
I‘ve been asked this question so many times that you’d think I would be sick of answering it by now. You would be right.

I always say the same thing, “It’s as if I’m working with men.” 

Sounds lame? Yeah, but maybe I’m just tired of the question.

Unfortunately I do recognize why the question always comes up since
 only 20 percent of the Bureau’s 13,667 agents are women, and, sadly to say 83 percent of the agents overall are white. 
Indeed, 10 months before being fired as director of the FBI by President Trump, James Comey called the situation a “crisis.”

In 1972, after Mr. Hoover died,  the FBI opened up the position of special agent to women.  Although one of the first two women hired was also appointed the first female agent to run a field office, her assignment was in Anchorage, Alaska, which was not then, nor is it now, at the center of the action.

The female agents I know say they will know when the FBI has made progress…it will be when a woman is finally put in charge of counterterrorism, criminal investigations, counterintelligence or is appointed as deputy director. 

I appreciate the fact that most of the female agents I’ve met have exhibited the same goals and desires to serve our nation and to work in federal law enforcement as my own. These agents have worked on a variety of cases and taken on many roles like health care fraud, prescription medicine fraud, mortgage fraud and some in organized crime.  A few have even worked cases involving outlaw motorcycle gangs, espionage and public corruption. Most of their roles however are undercover.

I have only recently worked closely with a couple of female agents – Special Agent Forrestal out of the Philadelphia Bureau and Special Agent Lum out of the Chicago Bureau. Both agents graduated cum laude, Forrestal out of Princeton and Lum out of Illinois. Forrestal’s fluency in Japanese was a huge help on two cases and Lum’s Chinese fluency helped tremendously with human trafficking out of China. 

Despite the challenges of the job, all the female agents I know seem to be passionate about their work and bring unique perspectives that enhance their effectiveness on the job. Like my boss, Assistant Director Alberto Marino always says, “We have enough agents who can kick down a door to get to a perpetrator. Now let’s see what these females can do about talking the perp out of the room without the need to kick down the door in the first place.”

Talk soon. 


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