The case of the well armed FBI agent

One option for a graduating law student was to join the FBI. It was a surprisingly competitive opportunity. In fact, word was that in those halcyon days in the early 1980s, the FBI was only hiring law graduates who were women, minorities, or those with single digit class ranks from ivy league schools–as a means of curing certain demographic imbalances in their ranks. But in any case, those of us who were interested were able to see a presentation from an FBI agent in the usual 90 seat amphitheater room.

So, things were going pretty well until he showed a video made by agent candidates who were attending FBI basic training, or whatever it was called. One of the candidates exclaimed that the school was academically difficult and that the candidates studied as much as three hours a night! There was some twittering from those of us in the audience. During my first year, I studied from 6 to midnight 5 days a week, and I was by no means the most diligent student. The agent noted the giggles and snorts and commented that law students must study more than that.

After the video there were questions and answers. I can’t recall the details, but I vaguely recall a police hater type student grinding his axe with commentary and pointed qeustions. At some point the agent apparently felt he lost the upper hand psychologically, so he pointed to his gun and stated, apropos of nothing, that “If any of you were to make a move on me, I could K-6 you right in the heart.” I presumed that K-6 was a target range metric indicating tightness of pattern.

Well, those of us sitting relaxed in our chairs, having never given the slightest thought to “making a move” on anybody in the amphitheater, gave each other some subtle eyebrow raised looks to the effect of “What kind of a clown are we dealing with here?” Fortunately, the presentation completed without any shots fired, and the agent closed by explaining the demographic targets of their recruiting as I noted above.

Having said all that, the fact remained that the FBI represented a great career opportunity for those with the right disposition and demographics to get hired there.

[I believe the reason they were called ‘special’ agents arose from agency law. A general agent is presumed to have unlimited authority on behalf of the organization they represent, while a special agent designation puts counter parties on notice that the agent does not have unlimited authority and they need to ascertain what authority said agent has. For instance, a special agent has the authority to arrest a suspect, but typically not the authority to enter into a million dollar building purchase agreement on behalf of the FBI.]

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