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Criminal Justice Articles

What does an FBI Agent do?

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents are usually involved with the investigation of federal crimes including bombings, mail fraud, kidnappings, serial killers, and identity theft. They may work with local and Federal agencies to move the investigation forward and have constant contact with those involved in the case such as suspects and witnesses. An FBI agent needs to have strong deductive reasoning to extrapolate information from a set of data given or provided to them. They examine the evidence at the crime scene and deduct the actions that have taken place, possible motive, and leads on where to start the investigation. A field agent will report in at the office and receive their assignments. These will be followed through with and reported to their superiors, and finally sent to Washington.

Agents may work in close association with forensic scientists and technicians in the investigation of crime. The forensics lab in Washington is where all of the data and evidence is sent for testing and verification purposes. The agents working in the labs are highly trained and use the latest in technology to extrude information from the evidence found at a crime scene or as part of an investigation. While gathering evidence and information, an agent may be required to participate in surveillance activities, physical conflicts, gunplay, and chases involving criminals and suspects. An FBI agent might be, at any given time, in harm's way, which is a constant part of a career in the FBI. Gathering information is the primary concern of the FBI agent, which involves thought, knowledge of procedures, and analysis.

An agent may spend countless hours examining the evidence of a case to find missing information or clues to the motive and location of suspected criminals in a case. They may need to raid the area or location in which a primary suspect is hiding or being hidden. In these cases, FBI agents use Kevlar vests and a team of agents to bring a violent or unpredictable suspect into their custody. Sometimes, cases will require the agent to spend long periods of time away from their families or working on the road. Many agents work in somewhat isolated environments and have very limited power to arrest individuals. They investigate the crimes, while other Federal agencies perform the arrests. At the end of the investigation an agent often moves to his or her next assignment prior to the arrests being made.

The main concern for all FBI agents is that they carry out their work and investigations within the rules of the law. Any misstep in an investigation can render evidence and information unusable in court, thus allowing, or potentially allowing, a criminal to go free or an investigation to remain unsolved. All agents must submit field reports and case reports to the Attorney General's office in Washington D.C. This provides a record of the case, should it need to be revisited or used in court, and completes the FBI agent's assignment, unless a court appearance is necessary.

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