On September 11, 2001, I was working for Merrill Lynch on the top floor of the World Financial Center in New York City. I witnessed up-close the horrific deadly terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. My colleagues and I evacuated our building and were led to safety thanks to the heroic efforts of NYPD officers. 2,977 souls were not as fortunate that day. I was shocked. Heartbroken. I vowed to God that I would give back and serve this great nation.
This vow led me to leave a multi-billion-dollar hedge fund in 2009 and apply to become an FBI Special Agent. According to the Wall Street Journal, around 45,000 people applied to be special agents that fiscal year. About 900 made the cut. I was one of them.
After five months of arduous training at the Academy in Quantico, I was a sworn-in Special Agent, assigned to the Miami Division. I considered it a sacred responsibility and was honored to be entrusted to protect and serve the American people.
My entire career was spent in the field where I believed I could make the strongest impact in rescuing victims and putting criminals behind bars.
It was my privilege to work alongside the finest and brightest in the FBI, local law enforcement and our federal partners, participating in the investigations of myriad criminal cases: The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida; the 2017 Fort Lauderdale airport shooting; the Cesar Sayoc pipe bomb case; multi-million-dollar Ponzi schemes; crimes on the high-seas; bank robberies; murders for hire; sexual assaults; extortions and more.
Yes, it was physically taxing and emotionally jarring. But I believed I was making an impactful difference.
Every day I woke up and embraced being an FBI Special Agent.
Until things changed.
Over the course of my 12-plus years of service, the FBI’s trajectory transformed. On paper, the Bureau’s mission remained the same but its priorities and governing principles shifted dramatically. The FBI became politically weaponized, starting from the top in Washington trickling down to the field offices.
Lately, there has been one politicization issue after another at the FBI. Consider an example: on June 4, 2020, images and videos surfaced online of Special Agents in their FBI-marked ballistic vests kneeling to protesters in Washington, D.C., while on official duty protecting our nation’s institutions.
Although agents have their First Amendment rights, they are not at liberty to publicly express any potential political support while on duty wearing official FBI gear.
Some claimed they knelt for deescalation purposes but images revealed some agents clapping and smiling! They hardly seemed to be in danger. In fact, the agents posted at another building nearby remained standing during the entire protest.
On top of that, there was no reprimand for any of the agents who knelt that day. In fact, many ended up getting highly sought-after promotions and were offered $100 gift cards by the FBI Agents Association.
For many agents nationwide, it was upsetting to see the lack of judgment by the kneelers, much less their apparent political statements while on the job. And the fact that they were treated like heroes by some FBI managers was appalling.
It’s as if there became two FBIs.
Americans see this, and it is destroying the Bureau’s credibility, causing Americans to lose faith in the agency and therefore the hardworking and highly ethical agents who still do the heavy lifting and pursue noble cases.
The majority of agents uphold their oath to support and defend the Constitution with fairness and integrity.
There has also been a shift in recruiting practices – a lowering of the eligibility requirements – which is negatively impacting the agency’s performance.
All this adds up to a loss of trust in the FBI by many Americans and low morale among many FBI employees.
As a result, teams are less cohesive, less trusting of each other and less safe. For many, becoming a Special Agent was their calling in life but now it’s merely an extremely high-risk job with minimal contentment.
Wary of the consequences that come with voicing their displeasure, these agents keep their heads low, work hard, stay off the radar, and count down the days until they collect their well-deserved pension.
For me, distancing myself from egregious mistakes, immoral behavior and politically charged actions taken by a small but destructive few FBI employees became exhausting. Although I was always treated with the highest level of respect in the Miami Division, I no longer felt that I was the type of agent the FBI valued.
I began to lose passion for the career I’d loved.
Peace came as I reflected on the victims I assisted and the criminals I took off the streets. I remembered the positive performance reviews, awards, and accolades I’d been given.
I was pleased with my efforts but profoundly saddened that conditions had deteriorated to the point that leaving was my best option.
I held out as long as I could hoping things would improve. But finally, I knew. It was time to go.
So, two months ago, of my own volition, I made the difficult decision and quietly walked away from the FBI with an exemplary and spotless record.
I love the FBI I joined. I have treasured memories of working alongside remarkable people.
Going forward I will continue serving others and our beloved country while honoring and celebrating the true heroes, both past and present, of the FBI.