Friday, February 24, 2012
"Bad Intent" author, Retired FBI Agent Michael Tabman,Guest Post Part II
The FBI was much different from the police department; more than anyone could imagine. During the Academy, we were conducting a practical exercise. My partner was also a former cop, though ex-cops were not that common. During the exercise, we decided to affect an arrest and started placing the handcuffs on the “actor” who was an Academy staff member. The instructor quickly stopped the exercise.
“Did you get permission to make the arrest?” he shouted to my partner and me.
“Hah, permission to make an arrest! That’s a good one.” We laughed at that obvious joke – except, he was not joking. The idea of requesting permission to make an arrest was almost an oxymoron to a cop. Split second decision making kept a cop alive.
I spent approximately ten years on the street as a field agent. My most memorable years were spent on an FBI-NYPD Organized Crime/Drug Enforcement Task Force. This was in the late 1980s and early 1990’s in Jackson Heights in Queens, NY. We were targeting Colombian cocaine trafficking and money laundering. We did it all – surveillance, wiretaps, undercover operations and drug raids. I even executed a sneak-and-peek search warrant, 15 years before that became a controversial aspect of the PATRIOT Act. Not only were the cases exciting, but so were the dynamics of FBI Agents and NYPD Detectives working so closely together. We were different beasts. Despite the strong personalities, long hours and dangerous situations, we had fun. My experiences on this task force served as the inspiration for my recent crime novel short stories, Bad Intent.
I eventually left that task force to enter management for the remainder of my 24 year career with the FBI. By the time I reached Special Agent in Charge, I had held numerous positions, served in several field offices and was involved in the inner-workings of the FBI; I had seen the best and the worst of the FBI. The public would be surprised by not only what the FBI could do, but also what it could not do. A highly accomplished agency, the FBI is made up of people – imperfect, as we all are. Office politics, big egos and petty conflicts were as prevalent in the FBI as in any organization – government or private industry. But through it all, we took on spies, mobsters, white collar criminals and corrupt politicians. And just like any police department, we could not wipe out crime and corruption, but maintained enough control to keep our country safe and secure. After 9/11, the FBI undertook some deep introspection. The FBI quickly recognized that the face of the enemy had changed and needed to change with it. The FBI continues to evolve hoping to stay a step ahead the next impending threat.
When I retired five years ago, I was home decompressing and reconnecting – I had lived away from home the last four years of my career. I thought about all my experiences – from fist fights as a patrol officer to management decisions to media appearances. Most of those memories made me laugh and I thought there were some life lessons to be learned. I put those thoughts into writing with my first book, Walking the Corporate Beat: Police School for Business People. Only after giving several successful presentations on business risk, based on the book, did I find the confidence to publish it. I continue to give business presentations, most notably, “The Stranger” using those concepts to teach executives how to deter and detect hidden operational risks.
My crime novels, Midnight Sin and Bad Intent are hardboiled and gritty and take you to the dark side of the cop world. Law and Order Producer Peter Giuliano described Midnight Sin, “Michael captured his heart and soul as a cop. My heart was pounding. This is a powerful story, no matter which side of the law you happen to be on.”
People always ask if I miss the action. They are surprised when I say no. I enjoyed being a street cop in uniform and in plain clothes, being a field FBI Agent and an FBI executive. Every position and experience was challenging and fun in its own way. Yet, there is always a time to move on.
I never imagined that I would become an author. I nearly failed creative writing in high school. Even my written reports in the FBI were returned by my superiors for being too pithy and lacking “fluff.”
In my presentations and in my books, I tell a story within my story. I hope to leave you thinking and wondering.