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Undercover Work

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message 1: by Joanna (new)

Joanna | 4 comments Hi John - thanks so much for all your help. This is an amazing forum!
My question is in regard to undercover work. In my story, I need an FBI agent to be undercover, but I'm not sure how that process works. Would the agent come out of the national office or from a different city field office? I do not want him to be from the city where friends or acquiantances would recognize him. Also, would it be realistic for him to pose as an employee of one organization so as to gain access into another company's dealings? Last question - if it turns out there is an international component to this, does the FBI work with the CIA or does the FBI defer to the CIA? THANK YOU, JOHN!

message 2: by John (new)

John Ouellet | 77 comments Mod
Joanna, lots of info on this that I can't divulge for obvious reasons, but in general, the undercover agent, "UC" as they're known, can be requested by one field office if that field office has no one that fits the bill. HQ will then canvass field offices based upon the profile and requirements/skills requested. FBIHQ does NOT have a squad of specific UC's. UC's are field agents who specialize as UC's but also have caseloads themselves. How they are trained, used, backstopped (specific cover stories) I cannot go into. Yes, it's realistic for the UC to assimiltate into an organization, but to do so effectively, usually a select few in the organization will be aware of his/her true ID. If it goes international it gets complicated as there are a lot of host country, state dept hoops involved that would most probably bog your story down anyway so I'd ignore them. As for CIA involvement, you'd be safe to let your story dictate that. In other words, either agency can operate it but depending on your story line you may want that in-fighting that readers so die for. Good luck and hope it helps.

message 3: by Joanna (new)

Joanna | 4 comments Hi John - Thank you. It does help. I just needed to know if my ideas were plausible. And thanks for the "in-fighting" idea -- I appreciate your help! Best, Joanna

message 4: by John (new)

John Ouellet | 77 comments Mod
Great and best to you

message 5: by Larry (new)

Larry Townley | 26 comments Hey Joanna. Just wanted to add my 2 cents as well re UC work. I started working UC as a cop back in the mid-80s, and did a lot of it while working as a field agent in Detroit for 10 years. What John said was correct in that they try to place the appropriate person in a UC role, such as they need a person who speaks a specific language or has a specific background. For example, if it's a white collar case, they may request an agent with an accounting background, etc. Also, without going into too much detail as John said, any agent or support employee who expresses an interest in working UC cases has to go to specialized training which, I can tell you from experience, is very tough to get through. In some cases they will let someone who is not a certified UC do some cameo roles or can do a UC meet no more than 3 times (except in certain circumstances) with a bad guy. And how much backstopping is done for someone in a UC role depends on what type of case it is, and how high the priority of the case is, and this also affects the funding mechanism for it as well - such as whether the field office is going to fund the UC project or if it'll be funded out of FBIHQ. And John is correct - doing UC work overseas is a major pain in the ass ;-) Hope this was helpful as well.


message 6: by Larry (new)

Larry Townley | 26 comments Oh, and one more thing you need to keep in mind: the CIA and FBI are totally different. The FBI is both a law enforcement and an intelligence agency and has both the duty/mission to investigate criminal cases and to gather intelligence - and can operate domestically and overseas. The CIA does not have a domestic charter and cannot do intelligence collection inside the U.S. Also, the CIA does not have any law enforcement authority and don't make arrests like we do.


message 7: by John (new)

John Ouellet | 77 comments Mod
Good stuff, Larry. Thanks for the input

message 8: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Brody (tracybrodybooks) | 2 comments Thanks, John and Larry. I didn't ask the question but ties in to my just completed draft and I'm doing happy dance that based on my online research I got it right and don't have to change!

One quick question though, I have a newer FBI agent as background character. Would they refer to them as a probationary agent as a way to show they are lower ranking?

message 9: by John (new)

John Ouellet | 77 comments Mod
Yes an agent with 2 or less years is on probation but rarely will a Special Agent be addressed or commented on as one, unless that agent screws up and can be fired w/o cause because of the probationary status. "Newbie" or "junior Agent" are used more often than "proby." Feel free to corrct me there Larry

message 10: by Larry (new)

Larry Townley | 26 comments You're right, John. Unless your name is Tony DiNozzo and you're on NCIS, you don't refer to a junior agent as 'proby.' ;-) More often than not we used to refer to new guys as the FNG...Fucking New Guy.

message 11: by John (new)

John Ouellet | 77 comments Mod
Ahhh yes, that's right, Larry, so hopefully Tracy your novel isn't a children's book

message 12: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Brody (tracybrodybooks) | 2 comments LOL. Thanks guys. Not a kids book but doubt the female FBI agent would refer to the new chick as the NFG. I had junior agent until I was on the FBI site and saw the information about a Junior Agent program for students. And that would not be what I want for readers to think esp. with the junior agent flirting with my Spec Ops guys. So with a tap of my "Search and Replace" option, probationary agent is once again a junior agent.

message 13: by Larry (last edited Feb 04, 2014 03:40PM) (new)

Larry Townley | 26 comments Actually, we referred to any new agent as an FNG...male or female, and even our female agents referred to other females and themselves as FNGs ;-) You could always figure out pretty quickly if someone was offended by that term, but most took it in stride. In the Academy the students are referred to as NATs - New Agent Trainees.

message 14: by Denny (new)

Denny Bryce Reading this thread makes me what to write a book about this topic. The danger if a really good, informative specialty group. Great information John, and great to have Larry's input. Love FNG!

message 15: by John (new)

John Ouellet | 77 comments Mod
Thanks to Larry. I had forgotten about FNG though once-upon-a-time, I was one.

message 16: by Larry (new)

Larry Townley | 26 comments and me both, Johnny ;-) But last month I celebrated 30 years in law enforcement...did almost 12 as a cop, and it's passed very quickly.


message 17: by Joanna (new)

Joanna | 4 comments Hi Larry - Thanks so much for your info, too. I really appreciate it.
You helped me cement the UC part b/c now everything will fit perfectly, knowing that they have to do extensive training and the time involved. It dovetails with him coming back to do the UC work. THANK YOU! Both you and John are so wonderful to be helping in this way - your input takes away my fears of "is this believable?" So, again, many thanks! Joanna

message 18: by Larry (new)

Larry Townley | 26 comments Just remember to give John and I 'props' as your 'consultants' in your books gang ;-)


message 19: by John (new)

John Ouellet | 77 comments Mod
If not royalties

message 20: by Larry (new)

Larry Townley | 26 comments Roger that ;-)

message 21: by Joanna (new)

Joanna | 4 comments Oh, absolutely! You guys are invaluable!

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