An Interview with FBI Special Agent in Charge (SAC)
Voviette D. Morgan
By: Mehdi Zokaei, Editor-in-Chief
Javanan Magazine Editor-in-Chief meets with FBI SAC Voviette D. Morgan as she tells our readers what the FBI stands for, their relationship with the Iranian Community, and about being a woman in a male-dominated career.
Mehdi Zokaei: Thank you very much for having us. You know we have a lot of young people following our magazine all over the world. They are college-educated, and many of them and would be interested in working for the FBI.
Voviette D. Morgan: I love hearing that because that’s one thing the FBI is focusing on. We’re trying to be more diverse – and that encompasses age, gender, and ethnicity. But, we’re also looking for diversity in terms of skill set and perspective. Diversity of thought is very important, and that is often influenced by culture. So, we need representation in the FBI from all of our ethnic communities, and I am a big advocate for recruiting within minority communities. I would love to encourage more Iranian and Persian people to take a look at the FBI as a career choice. The FBI does a little bit of everything- especially, if they wanted to go the agent route- but we also have a huge analytical population. We have accountants, we have administrative folks, we have linguists – everything. There are a lot of career paths and a lot of opportunities for people to find their niche within the Bureau. We see value in all skill sets.
MZ: Tell us about the responsibilities of your new position as an agent, a special agent, of the criminal division.
Special Agent Morgan: I’m the Special Agent in Charge of the Criminal Division, so with that responsibility, I oversee the entire Los Angeles Criminal Division. All of our criminal programs fall under my purview to include White Collar Crime, Civil Rights, Healthcare Fraud, Public Corruption, Gangs, Drugs, Organized Crime, and Financial Crimes.
MZ: You have been with the FBI for more than 20 years?
Special Agent Morgan: Correct, I am approaching 22 years of service.
MZ: How has the FBI changed?
Special Agent Morgan: It’s probably gotten more global in terms of our responsibilities. Crime knows no territory. Crime knows no limit. Crime knows no boundaries, but I think in the 20 plus years I’ve been here, with the onset of technology, with the Internet, and how it has influenced our world, crime is now global. Crime can happen online- it can happen in an instant- and that’s where we had to make some of our adjustments. We have more offices overseas than when I joined the FBI 20 years ago. We now have a presence in about 75 countries. We refer to these offices as Legat Attaches. I think more and more what has become apparent is that no one agency can do it alone. Partnerships are extremely important at the local level, at the state level, and at the federal level. It truly takes a village in order to properly police our communities. So, we have wonderful partnerships here in the Los Angeles area. I’m extremely proud of our partnerships. It’s very positive and something I am proud of.
MZ: How has the FBI stayed the same?
Special Agent Morgan: Our Mission hasn’t changed. We are a law enforcement and intelligence collection agency. That is what we do. At our very core, our job is to protect our communities and to put bad people in jail. That is our core responsibility. It’s to keep our communities safe and to collect intelligence. Our mission hasn’t wavered since the beginning: to uphold the constitution and keep our communities safe; to hold people accountable for any criminal activity that they are involved in.
MZ: How can citizens get involvement with the FBI?
Special Agent Morgan: We need the public to work with us, to partner with us. What we ask from our citizens is very simple: if you see something say something. These words are very common, it’s a slogan, a motto that is out there, but it’s very true. If people see crime occurring, if they see things that are suspicious, or not normal, they should pick up the phone and call. They should call local law enforcement, they should call federal law enforcement. We need the public to be good citizens and active participants in keeping our communities safe. Everyone needs to pay attention to what’s going on in their community. If they see things that are questionable, or activity that is unusual, they need to report it. We need people to be participants, we need people to be vocal, and we need people to be engaged in their communities.
MZ: To my knowledge the readers of Javanan Magazine have respect for you and your work. I want to ask you what is your experience with the Persian community?
Special Agent Morgan: Well, I got very involved with the Persian community after September 11. After September 11, one of my responsibilities was to oversee our Office of Public and Congressional Affairs. As a part of that responsibility, I was involved in a lot of community outreach. And so, again, here in Los Angeles we have a lot of different ethnic groups that make up our communities and I was responsible for reaching out to all of them and finding common ground. LA is one of the most diverse cities in the country and in the world. It is fantastic! That’s why it is so wonderful to work here in Los Angeles, and to be a part of the FBI Los Angeles Office.
My involvement with the Persian community really increased after 9/11 when we formed- and Aram was a founding member- of our Muslim Community Advisory Council. The FBI recruited members from different communities in Los Angeles to be apart of an advisory council to partner with the FBI and help us combat increased threats of terrorism. It was, I think, very successful. We had, probably, about 50 members that were part of this advisory council and the Iranian/Persian community had a huge voice on the committee. But, that was probably where I started to learn and meet a lot of the leaders in the Persian community and I think those partnerships turned into friendships that continue to this day. We, the FBI, invited the Persian community to help us get a better understanding of their community, the needs of their community, and the concerns of their community. Then, we asked how the FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, could address those issues.
Art? Anything you have to say about that?
Aram Sardarian: I always say, you have always been helpful in getting our community, if there was an issue there was always someone there to help us. She was there to answer any questions we had. She was there- anytime we needed any help, she was there to help us.
Special Agent Morgan: Well, that’s good to hear. The only negative thing that has come from our relationship is that I have grown to love Persian food which has resulted in a little bit of a weight gain. Going out so much with all of my friends from the community, has resulted in some serious weight gain over the years. That is probably the only negative thing that has come from our relationship. But, as we are in the beginning of the Persian New Year, I love to get engaged in the community, and experience everything the culture has to offer. I’m a big fan of immersing myself in other cultures. I love to try new food. I’ve visited various Mosques- which really assisted in learning more about the community, and allowed me to meet a lot of community leaders, and learn and partake in many religious customs. I feel as though I had a good indoctrination into the Persian culture, and I’m loving it. It just makes us better by understanding the community at the core level.
MZ: What do you remember at the most when you are finish working here and heading to your new role?
Special Agent Morgan: With this job? You know what, to me the best part about this job is two-fold. At the core of who I think the FBI is, and what agents miss when they retire from the agency is: the people and the mission. Those are the two things. “The people” refers to my coworkers – the people internally, within the organization- and the people externally, who are like our extended family- the Persian community and other communities that we partner with, for example. But, people matter in this experience. People matter in the everyday work that we do.
And then, we have the mission. No matter what great job my retired colleagues have gone on to take after they left and retired from the FBI, no other agency, no other private company- no one- has the mission of the FBI. Our mission is very unique. What we are responsible for- because we work all programs, such as counterterrorism, counterintelligence, cyber, and criminal matters- is very expansive. I tell everyone the beauty of the FBI is that I’ve never met more dedicated, committed, smart, capable people than here at the FBI. And then, we are lucky enough to partner with so many other agencies and so many wonderful people in the community. The people and the mission are I think the most valuable assets within the FBI and once I leave the FBI, that is what I will miss.
To be continued in next issue…