Former FBI Agent Steve Moore’s Special Agent Man: My Life in the FBI as a Terrorist Hunter, Helicopter Pilot, and Certified Sniper gives readers a glimpse into the demanding career of a cop & the protective walls they must build to do their job
Presenting himself as a regular guy joining the FBI, author and former FBI Agent Steve Moore openly admits he was the “least likely to become an FBI agent.” He recalls growing up a shy, polite, well-meaning, law-abiding, churchgoing kid. He wasn’t an intimidator or the one being intimidated.
Throughout the book, he shares stories of past case work, the effects of a demanding career on him, and his family, his fight with cancer, and his “on-the-job” humor. For example, from the “Stupid People Tricks” chapter, you can read about him on duty with a couple other guys as back-up for taking down a suspect in an extortion case. While waiting for things to go down, they entertained thoughts of giving intentionally confusing commands to an arrestee that they would have no possibility of obeying. All I can say is that it ended with, “Driver! Say you love me!” I also especially liked his term for a door breach tool—the “master key”.
Home & Work Balance
In the book, Moore explains how he wore just about every piece of protective gear there was during his career. He gives examples of all types of helmets, hearing protection, headphones, four different kinds of goggles for eye protection from chemical sprays to wind in an open-cockpit airplane. He talks about the different fire protection, SWAT, chemical and biological Tyvek suits. He wore a charcoal-filtered combat uniform to protect himself against radioactive fallout and biological warfare. He wore at least five different vests to protect himself from just about everything, including a .22-caliber pistol to a .30-caliber bullet from an AK-47. There was more protective equipment than can possibly be recounted, but there was no gear to protect from what was experienced at the morgue.
Moore investigated the Wilberg, Utah mining tragedy in 1984. A fire had started in the tunnel known as the Fifth Right longwall and quickly grew out of control. As a result, many miners died. He admired the adeptness of a funeral director to handle a difficult situation masterfully and to calm a surviving family member concerning autopsy details. That day Steve witnessed 27 autopsies and another 25 of other victims of the same mining tragedy.
There’s a fine balance between the “protective gear” for the soul and mind. He mentions the existence of a “ticking time bomb” that can explode if you don’t use protective gear in the form of an emotional wall when on duty, but also equally essential is empathy at home for your family.
He shares a corollary: A gun is essential at work, but when taken home can be terribly dangerous; so it must be locked away at home. Empathy is essential at home, but when taken to work can be terribly dangerous; so it must be locked away when at work.
After the attacks of 9/11 there was an incoming flood of work, like trying to drink out of a fire hose. The FBI needed to treat al-Qaeda like a gang or an organized crime group, not as if it were a type of political movement. Todd Prost was an agent who committed suicide post 9/11. He was unable to find a way to release the stress, to build a wall, to avoid carrying it with him 24/7.
Agent Moore had to go to Karachi, Pakistan after the bombing of the U.S. consulate. “It’s all about building ‘walls,’” he said. “Emotional walls. Impenetrable walls to keep the image of dead, glazed, emotionless eyes from staring at you while you hug your daughter. Walls are essential for law enforcement and emergency-response professionals. It lets a fireman smile and laugh at a family gathering rather than mourn the lifeless toddler he pulled out of a burning home the day before. While walls are crucial, they have as much potential to destroy as they have to preserve. The ideal wall is as strong and as high as the stone walls of Jericho and must be able to come down just as quickly. It is important that you control the walls, or the walls will control you.”
As accomplished an agent as he was, he recognizes that his wife had become his hero. Michelle showed great strength and resilience throughout his battle with cancer and all that a law enforcement wife goes through.
I would recommend this book to officers and family members because it gives you a glimpse of what life can be like for an LE professional.
See GManCaseFile.com for references and more on Special Agent Steve Moore.
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