A Day in the Life Field Notes from a Federal Agent by Anonymous
ONE MORNING, MY TEAM IS TASKED WITH
just to the left of his right nipple as he approaches. My partner cuffs him as the
meth house. Our target is a decrepit
eral open doors — each a potential am-
team arrives, and we methodically clear
building with an unknown number of
bush — so procedure dictates we stand
the rooms one by one. We reach the door
inhabitants. The goal is a quick surren-
firm. I yell, “Show me your hands!” He
where our gangster stood minutes ago,
der — shock and awe.
ignores me. Our teammates have encoun-
and I see a sawed-off twelve gauge just
tered additional gangsters, so we have no
inside. It’s loaded, just out of arm’s reach
from how we get out of the car to who
back-up, no idea what’s behind him, and no
for our gangster.
may end up using the battering ram, is
clue what’s behind those doors.
We talk tactics. Every last detail,
planned out. We double-check our gear.
His head slowly swivels back and forth
If you’ve ever had a near accident in a car, you know the powerful, shocking
Pistols, rifles, body armor, handcuffs,
as he sizes up his options. Sweat is pouring
rush of adrenaline and the sweaty, in-
flashlights, radios, evidence kits, cam-
down my back underneath the accumu-
eras, Miranda forms.
lated weight of my bulletproof vest, equip-
Game time arrives. Our unmarked Ford Expedition cruises through early morning darkness. A gang member makes us and runs to the house. We’ve got to move.
That’s what I felt when I saw that shot-
ment, and terror. I shout again, “I will shoot
gun and realized how close this was to
you in the chest and it will hurt!”
being the worst — and possibly last —
Time slows. A beat passes. Two beats. Jack Bauer may kill four terrorists per epi-
day of my life. My work is mostly paperwork and pro-
sode of 24, but I understand the gravity
cedure, punctuated by moments of abject
mer, we swarm the residence. Another
of this moment, that both our lives are on
terror, where a criminal’s choice can elim-
officer and I clear the kitchen, reach
the line. My training takes over — a cold
inate my own. And every single day since
the back hall, and encounter a gang
and distant but instantaneous reaction.
that day, I am thankful that gang member
member standing less than 20 feet away.
All my focus is on the center of his chest.
made the choice to live. n
Hands behind his back, he’s shirtless,
It’s his decision. He can make me kill him.
Anonymous is a pre-9/11 graduate of U-M and a former U.S. Marine.
Breaching the door with a sledgeham-
“CopKila” tattooed across his chest. His chin is low, and his stare suggests that
he is neither shocked nor awed. Between us and the gangster are sev-
executing a search warrant at a known
LSA Magazine / SPRING 2011
After an eternal moment, he slowly shows his empty hands. I keep my sights
Published on May 10, 2011