Interview with an NCIS Agent (Part 1)
MM: NCIS Special Agents investigate felony level criminal offenses that occur within the department of (US) Navy to include the Marine Corps. This includes crimes that occur aboard ship, at operational combat bases, in the field, or at any of the USN bases or facilities world-wide. In many instances NCIS shares jurisdiction with state, or even foreign nations law enforcement organization. Part of being an NCIS Special Agent is demonstrating the ability to garner positive working relationships with all law enforcement agencies they may encounter. Though a US Warship docked in a foreign port is US govern property, the dock, pier etc… are not and often the criminal element that may threaten US forces come from these areas. This might include those wishing to facilitate drug trade or trafficking, those targeting sailor for criminal purposes or terrorist opposed to the US presence in their area.
MM: NCIS Special Agents are Federal Law Enforcement Officers and have police powers in civilian controlled jurisdiction. In foreign countries the degree of law enforcement power off base is carefully delineated through understandings with the host country. NCIS is mostly a civilian law enforcement agency (as differentiated by having military members). There are military members from the Navy and Marine Corps within our intelligence analysis sections as well as Marine Special Agents. These Agents work side by side with Civilian Special Agents and are all but indistinguishable from their civilian counterparts. There are some restriction on a Military Special Agents interaction with law enforcement arrests of purely civilians, this is covered under the Posse Comitatus Acts which was originally placed to prevent our military from being used as a domestic police force.
MM: I was assigned to work with the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia investigating the Sbrenicia Massacre that occurred in Bosnia after Dutch Peace keeping Forces were forced out by the Serbs. Approximately 10,000 men were executed in a series of locations, mostly schools and civic auditoriums. Two of these scenes were close to pristine, in that the Serbs removed the bodies, chained the doors and walked away. In the two sites I was involved in about 500 men were executed at each location. The forensic challenge was we could only take the processing gear we could fit in a single European style van that also had to hold all of our personal effects. The second challenge was that once we left a site and it was identified as part of the investigation it would likely be dozed to the ground. So, with limited equipment, time and sleep our four man team processed two sites, a theater and warehouse where about 500 people were killed in each. Unusual to say the least even in the highest crime neighborhood in the states.
While in Haditha Iraq we met with similar challenges. Investigating the “Haditha Massacre” we would leave our safe base, travel into Haditha (called a denied area, military euphemism for not safe) and process three houses and a roadside shooting site where in all 24 civilians were reportedly massacred. Learning from Bosnia and other foreign adventures we developed a specialized method of processing the scenes, SWAT team style. Hitting fast and hard we could collect the evidence and document the scene in under twenty minutes (approximately the time necessary for the insurgents to respond to our presence). Processing a scene in full combat gear at my age was to say the least a physical and mental challenge. We completed the scenes and the evidence was later used to exonerate several of the Marines from wrongdoing as the Iraqi’s version of events was clearly not supported by the forensic findings. We did get a little greedy and stayed on one scene longer than we should have, finally the Marine in charge of our security rushed us out after IED’s and other insurgent activity increased sufficiently against our position. How were we distinguished from the Marines? In my case I made a much larger target than most Marines and on our load bearing vests though we carried plenty of ammo we also had at least 8 or 10 sharpie pens!
I’ll post the second portion of this interview in a few days so be sure to check back!
Posted on July 24, 2012, in Characters and tagged autopsy, Bevel Gardner, Crime Scene, csi, death scene investigation, detective, fiction, forensics, medical examiner, Michael Maloney, murder, mystery, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, NCIS Special Agent, Special agent, thriller, tom adair. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.