If you Google the date September 22, 1969, you will see that nothing of great significance occurred on that Monday. Richard Nixon is listed as our President. Two celebrities, Matt Sharp and Sue Perkins, are listed as having that day as their birthday. Other than that, nothing. It was a very slow day.
As a government agent, I made some major busts and put away some highly dangerous individuals. As a private investigator, I change lives every day and it’s easy to judge my results: I get the guy or I don’t.
But that day, for myself and a few others, was life-changing.
At 9:00 a.m. I was sworn in at the Department of Justice as a special agents for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (a predecessor of the modern Drug Enforcement Administration). That ceremony is emblazed in my mind as if it happened this morning.
I had no idea that 50 years later I would still be working as an investigator, albeit for an private agency I started some 38 years ago.
It is both a little funny and amazing how things work out in life. In my second book, Seeing Life Through Private Eyes, I wrote in the Introduction:
In the BNDD and subsequent Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which was established in 1973, there is only on philosophy: Get it done. Kick ass; take names; do whatever it takes. Like serving arrest and search warrants and going through doors without a clue who might be on the other side. The work we did was dangerous and punishing, but I never questioned that we were doing the right things for the right reasons and making a difference in the world. I was a true believer. I did things by the book. I never deviated from my mission, always followed the rules, and ensured my reputation was above reproach.
My first three years as a special agent were spent working undercover assignments throughout California, Hawaii and Nevada. Then I was off to DEA headquarters in Washington, D.C. were I was selected to be in the newly established International Training Division. I spent the next five years traveling to 60 foreign countries teaching the law enforcement community and assisting in the enforcement of each country’s drug laws. During that time, I was selected to be the Director of the newly established Advanced International Drug Enforcement School, where we taught officers and agents from around the globe at the DOJ.
I was fortunate to return to the DEA office in Los Angeles as a Group Supervisor where I spent the next four years. Two of those years were spent as the Agent-in-Charge of all activities for the DEA at the Los Angeles International Airport. That job I would have done for free, given all the 24//7/365 non-stop activity.
In September of 1981, an on-the-job injury forced me out of federal service. I was truly devastated. I moped around for a few weeks, and felt really sorry for myself with broken dreams of what could have been. My old career had been on what they called “the fast-track”, and now it was derailed. I also had a wife and two small children at home.
I needed to find a new career.
38 years later, I know my forced retirement was the best thing that ever happened to me. As a government agent, I made some major busts and put away some highly dangerous individuals, which certainly saved a few lives somewhere. Still, any impact I might have had as a BNDD/DEA agent doesn’t come close to what I have accomplished in almost four decades as a private investigator.
In this job, I change lives every day and it’s easy to judge my results. I get the guy or I don’t. I find all the missing assets or I don’t. I nail the cheating spouse or crack the cold case, or I don’t. There’s not a whole lot of gray area in this job.
Thankfully, I still have a fire-in-the-belly for investigative work and we are fortunate to pick and choose the cases we work. Truth be told, I don’t play golf. I see no future in retiring to the “good life”. I plan on continuing to travel, but I love to return home as I watch our six grandchildren move forward as they make their way and mark in this world.
So let the journey begin today, Monday, September 23, 2019 as we march into our 51st year. I can only hope the ride continues to be as blessed, exciting and rewarding as the first 50 years.