New Skills Required for Changing Crimes

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 25, 2008 | Go to article overview

New Skills Required for Changing Crimes


Byline: Jennifer Haberkorn, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

As the crimes they investigate change, FBI agents in the next 100 years will require far different skills from those of the agents and employees who carried the bureau through its first century.

The resumes of the FBI's earliest agents were highlighted by careers in law, accounting and electrical engineering, with fluency in Italian, Russian or Spanish.

Today, the resumes landing at the top of the stack at the FBI recruiting office feature considerable international travel, fluency in Middle Eastern or Chinese languages and a background in military intelligence or computer technology.

Since 9/11, the focus [of the FBI] has shifted to counterterrorism and the role we play in the intelligence community, said John G. Raucci, assistant director of human relations at the FBI. As we become a more equal partner in the intelligence community, we offer greater services. It's not just the role of the agent on the street, but [also] foreign language skills, intelligence collection, intelligence analysis.

As the toughest crimes facing the United States and the world have changed, so have the skills the FBI requires from its employees, Mr. Raucci said. Today's - and tomorrow's - crimes center on counterterrorism and the Internet.

The bureau's intelligence component has increased significantly since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, especially as the FBI becomes involved in collecting data in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cyber-based offenses, such as pump and dump schemes - inflating the price of a stock through false statements and then selling it - and selling stolen goods on portals as such as eBay, also have increased.

The most wanted criminals for cyber-crimes are suspected of complex acts that require a technology background, including rerouting thousands of voice-over-Internet-protocol calls or hacking into competitors' Web sites to block sales.

Building cases against such criminals requires skills that agents didn't need just a few years ago.

Accountant, lawyer and electrical engineer were common occupations for FBI hires until recently. Accountants were needed to pore through company filings to find white-collar crimes. Electrical engineers had to create lamps that concealed microphones.

Today, fewer engineers are needed because the private sector produces much of the technology the FBI uses. The FBI's laboratories are able to build on private-sector products to make them bigger, faster and better, according to Mr. Raucci.

Fluency in Italian, Russian and Spanish were sought in the 1970s as the FBI was investigating organized crime and Russian terrorists.

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