TV, the face of the FBI is usually one of
an intrepid agent or analyst cracking a
case. In your own neighborhood, however,
you are much more likely to encounter the
disarming visage of one of our community
outreach specialists, like Linda Schmidt
of our Cincinnati Division, whose job is
to get out and meet people in the surrounding
communities and demystify the FBI. The FBI's
56 field offices each have a designated
community outreach specialist. We asked
Linda to talk about her job and her relationship
with community leaders.
Linda, what's a typical day like?
Linda: Working as a liaison is the
most important part of what I do. On a
typical day I e-mail, meet, or talk on
the phone with people from the community.
I meet them in the wee hours of the morning,
at lunch, or over dinner. "Flexible"
has become my mantra!
What are some of the projects you've been
Linda: There are quite a few. My hope
today was to put finishing touches on
my gang research project. I've been working
on it since May, in addition to planning
our local FBI Citizens' Academy picnic,
answering e-mails and phone calls about
the latest Nigerian e-mail scam, preparing
my presentation on gangs, and meeting
with my SAC.
What has been your most memorable experience?
Linda: Working as chair of the community
outreach committee of the Northern Ohio
Hate Crimes Working Group in Cleveland
from 1998 through 2004. Early on, we had
a decent size membership, but we were
missing two important groups: Asians and
Arabs. It wasn't easy to find a way into
these communities because they didn't
trust law enforcement. After 9/11, we
held conferences where everyone got a
chance to speak and talk about their cultures.
It was a delicate balance to find a way
to make everyone understand that we were
all in this together. We became lifetime
friends in the process.
What's the most rewarding part of your
Linda: The working group was the most
challenging and rewarding. As busy as
my days are, I wouldn't trade it for any
other job. There are so many moments,
like the phone call I received this morning
from a member of the Latino community
telling me, "I am proud of you. I
am hearing good things about what you
are doing in my community." Moments
like this make me believe that community
outreach is a valuable contribution to
the mission of the FBI.
Your Community webpage