Training Female Law Enforcement Officers in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia
Last Updated: Thursday January 18, 2024
This is the ninth installment in a series of profiles featuring DEA special agents, diversion investigators, chemists, and more. Learn about the tough but fulfilling, fascinating, and vital work these DEA personnel do, as well as the many different ways to get involved in fighting drug misuse.
For our ninth profile, we will be interviewing Special Agent Jen.
What motivated you to join the DEA?
After graduating from the University of Virginia, I studied at John Jay College of Criminal Justice for my master’s degree, where I met several NYPD officers who spoke very highly of DEA. I had never considered a job in drug enforcement, but did my research, trusted my instincts, and applied. I am drawn to service and to maintaining the rule of law and truly believe the DEA makes a difference in countless lives.
What does an average day as a Special Agent look like for you?
I currently lead a Task Force comprised of Special Agents and Task Force Officers from several local departments. A day in the life of a Special Agent is never the same. Like all government organizations, we have our share of administrative duties and paperwork, but each day is different and interesting. One day, I’ll be conducting surveillance on a target of investigation, the next, our informant is purchasing fentanyl pills, and the next, I’m speaking with high school students about the dangers of drugs. There are ample opportunities to stay engaged in this job, which is one reason we have such a high Special Agent retention rate.
What has been your proudest moment as a Special Agent thus far?
I was presented with unique opportunities to develop the first training programs for female law enforcement officers in both Kabul, Afghanistan and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I met strong, gracious, inspiring women, which further fueled my love for training and travel. These experiences motivated me to present various leadership topics to female officers during the six years I lived and worked overseas in Moscow, Russia and Tbilisi, Georgia. I was invited back to Tbilisi last April to speak again at an annual Women in Policing conference, where over 300 female police from 20 countries were in attendance. Moments like these are incredibly powerful and fulfilling.
How can young people who wish to become a Special Agent best prepare themselves for the job?
I am a firm believer that a wide range of backgrounds is healthy and productive for DEA, so regardless of experience (law enforcement, military, private-sector, or even recent college graduate), we need hungry, competent, flexible applicants to fill our workforce. As a former Physical Task Test administrator, I highly recommend cultivating a consistent, challenging workout routine. Exercise helps to strengthen the mind and the body and maintain the internal discipline needed to excel as a Special Agent.
The synthetic opioid fentanyl – often mixed into other drugs – is now responsible for tens of thousands of American deaths per year. How has the fentanyl epidemic changed your job?
Returning to domestic enforcement after my overseas tour was a huge eye-opener. The drug situation in the U.S. changed so dramatically with the fentanyl epidemic; it now dominates our workload. The frequency of local overdoses is a constant reminder that our profession is truly a matter of life and death. DEA teams like mine often try to connect the dots to identify and charge those responsible for selling poisonous fentanyl to victims, which is a daunting and time-consuming task. With fentanyl the focus of so many active investigations, dismantling the Mexican cartels responsible for supplying and transporting fentanyl into the U.S. is DEA’s #1 priority.
Aug. 1 Profile: Meet Special Agent Dave
Aug. 17 Profile: From Searching Tunnels to Undercover at a Rave...
Aug. 31 Profile: Fighting the Jalisco Cartel as an Intelligence Analyst
Sept. 14 Profile: Working With His Wife to Dismantle Drug-Peddling Prison Gang
Sept. 28 Profile: Meth Hidden in a Gas Tank? Helping DEA as a Chemist
Oct. 18 Profile: From Teaching English to Helping Capture El Chapo
Nov. 2 Profile: Phone Forensics: Diving Into Digital Evidence
Nov. 16 Profile: Inside the World of Chemistry, Calculations, and Clandestine Labs