National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day: Why become a DEA investigator?
National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day is January 9, a day when the community can show their support for the men and women who choose to serve and protect every day. You can wear blue, send a card to your local police department, or even share a story on social media about a positive experience with law enforcement.
It’s particularly important this year to show our appreciation to these first responders. Like many federal agencies in the last year, Drug Enforcement Administration agents and task force officers have found themselves not only confronting the often violent world of drug trafficking, but also possible exposure to a deadly virus, civil unrest, and increased homicides and drug overdose rates. They know better than anyone how difficult a career in law enforcement is.
DEA investigators consist of both special agents and task force officers, who are loaned from local and state police agencies. Their jobs are to track down the members of drug trafficking organizations, whether in small towns or across the globe. As a general rule, DEA doesn’t publicize the names or faces of these men and women, so that they can more effectively pursue criminals involved in the illicit drug industry.
But who are DEA’s silent investigators? Why would anyone want to put their lives on the line for no credit? So we thought we’d ask them – and, of course, we’ve removed their names to they can continue to quietly dismantle and destroy these illegal operations.
Why did you choose law enforcement as a career field?
- Growing up as a child I’ve seen so many negative things, like friends being incarcerated or even dying due to their criminal activities. I began a career in law enforcement because I felt a strong desire to make a difference and to help people make better life choices. – Special Agent, St. Louis Division Office
- I’m sure I am not alone in growing up in a neighborhood that was riddled with direct and indirect consequences of distribution and use of illegal narcotics. Simply put, it sucks. I saw law enforcement as my opportunity to help with that situation. – Special Agent Fairview Heights (Ill.) Resident Office
- I chose to pursue a career in law enforcement as a part of a life of community service helping neighborhoods, cities and the nation. But this service is also aimed at achieving the ideal that all can live, work, and play in an environment that is safe and free of those who would jeopardize that goal. – Special Agent, Northeast Kansas Drug Task Force
Where do you think your work has the greatest impact?
- I think my work has the greatest impact on the street level. In my group, we target drug and money couriers. When we are able to successfully interdict these drug and money couriers, I know that those drugs are not being distributed on streets and the money we seize is not being used to purchase more drugs. – Special Agent, Kansas City (Mo.) Interdiction Task Force
- With me being from a border town, of Hispanic decent and bilingual, I can utilize that to connect with suspects and victims in order to further an investigation. – Task Force Officer (Kansas City Police Department), Kansas City District Office
- When we build solid cases that are not easily defeated in court. Getting people off the streets that have no regard for what they’re trafficking is extremely gratifying. – Special Agent Fairview Heights (Ill.) Resident Office
- I believe the greatest impact I have is on the lives of the people that are transporting narcotics. Most of the time, they are not hardened criminals, but rather people who are down on their luck and looking for an easy way to make some money. Being a task force officer has given me the opportunity to talk with these people and learn why and how they got caught up with transporting narcotics. I’ve had some great conversations and have gathered great intelligence to further stop these drug trafficking organizations. – Task Force Officer (Kansas Highway Patrol), Kansas Highway Interdiction Task Force
Why did you choose DEA?
- The effect that drugs can have on the user and their loved ones is devastating. I wanted to help combat the destruction they cause to the community and families. I knew that within DEA I could play a small role in fighting to preserve what was important to me, which is the family unit. – Special Agent, Kansas City (Mo.) Interdiction Task Force
- I chose to work for DEA because of its mission. Although its primary mission is stopping the illegal distribution of narcotics, drugs and violence go hand-in-hand and DEA is able to tackle both issues head-on and make cities safer. – Special Agent, Cape Girardeau (Mo.) Resident Office
- Working for the DEA as a special agent has afforded me the opportunity to make an impact in an area in which I believe actual change can be achieved. The aspects of mental welfare, dependency, and social pressures that lead to drug crimes being committed, that is something I can have an impact on. That is something where I can affect real change. – Special Agent, Northeast Kansas Drug Task Force
What is your favorite part of the job?
- My favorite part of the job would be the job in its entirety, from sitting for hours on surveillance to regurgitating the case in court. – Task Force Officer (Kansas City Police Department), Kansas City District Office
- I love going to work and doing something different every day; there isn’t a set schedule. You can execute a search warrant in the morning, work on surveillance in the afternoon, and do plenty of other activities to further your investigation throughout the week. DEA holds unique real estate within the job market that consists of thought and action; you get the opportunity to do enforcement operations and you are constantly thinking of the best way to run your case. Lastly, even though I would never tell the guys in my group, “sometimes” they make work a fun place to be. – Special Agent Fairview Heights (Ill.) Resident Office
- Coming home to my family and when my kids ask if I arrested any bad guys today. As a TFO, I have come to meet other agents and TFOs from all around the United States. I thoroughly enjoy the relationships that I have built with other law enforcement agencies, as well as working cases that impact their communities and mine. - Task Force Officer (Kansas Highway Patrol), Kansas Highway Interdiction Task Force
- The freedom, support and ability to focus on fighting the war on drugs. – Task Force Officer (Kansas Highway Patrol), Kansas Highway Interdiction Task Force
What would you say to anyone considering DEA for a career in law enforcement?
- Go for it. DEA is a commitment and by choosing this commitment, you will have a worthwhile career while doing meaningful work along with it. – Special Agent, Cape Girardeau (Mo.) Resident Office
- You won’t regret your decision. This is an awesome agency and beats going to a standard 9 to 5 job every day of the week. Don’t be lazy and you’ll be just fine. – Special Agent Fairview Heights (Ill.) Resident Office
- Be prepared to be devoted. As a part of the DEA, you will work all types of crimes that go hand-in-hand with drug crimes. You will often wish you could have done more, worked faster, or went left, instead of right. You will experience both setbacks and success. You will work hard and be expected to excel at what you are tasked with. You will also be able to make a difference, and you can take that to heart. – Special Agent, Northeast Kansas Drug Task Force
Want to know more about working for DEA? Go to https://www.dea.gov/divisions/criminal-investigator-ba2020-1.
And if you want to know about the Task Force Officer Program, visit https://www.dea.gov/task-forces.