Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Visit with the FBI

Yesterday twelve members of the Rocky Mountain chapter of Sisters in Crime visited the Denver Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a tour. We scheduled the tour weeks in advance and had to submit names, birth dates, etc. so they could check us out beforehand. We were not allowed to take any electronic devices, including cell phones and cameras, on the tour. After receiving a visitor's badge to get into the federal building and going through the metal detector and purse-sniffer, we headed up to the 18th floor, where we relinquished our photo IDs at the FBI reception desk in exchange for a second visitor's badge for just the FBI portion of the building. All the check-in procedures took about 45 minutes.

We were escorted by three FBI employees, all support personnel versus field agents, but they had secondary duties that involved evidence collection at crime scenes and so on. One had visited the Body Farm in Tennessee, which started an impromptu discussion of decomposition in different soils. One of our escorts always took the rear position to make sure none of our group wandered away. They were all very friendly, though, and tried their best to answer our questions. Susie, the main guide, said we were the most inquisitive bunch she's every escorted through the office. That's a characteristic of writers!

The tour included an explanation of the 10 Most Wanted List, the memorial board of fallen agents, and the bureau seal, all of which were posted in the lobby. Then we visited the gun vault, where the weapons instructor gave us an overview of all the weapon systems and body armor used by field agents and SWAT teams. He also discussed the weapons training requirements. All field agents must retest every two months and SWAT members even more frequently. We saw the polygraph room, an interrogation room, the radio room, the fingerprint room, the offices of the "Special Agent in Charge", and the situation room, which will be manned during the Colorado Rockies-hosted World Series games and the Democratic National Convention, among other events. A very exciting and informative tour, all-in-all, and one we were disappointed to end.

Who knows, there may be a spate of mysteries involving FBI agents produced by Colorado mystery authors in the near future!

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