SA Thomas O'Connor worked for 15 years as a Municipal Officer in Massachusetts before joining the FBI in 1997. He specialized in narcotics and violent gang investigations, and worked on both International and Domestic Terrorism cases. He served as program coordinator for investigations involving extremist groups and was Case Agent for both the Pentagon and Family Research Council shootings. He has led forensic teams to multiple terrorist attacks around the world, and is a certified Adjunct Faculty member for the FBI Academy and the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. SA O'Connor was a member of the FBI Agents Association's National Executive Board for 10 years and served as Vice President and President. He retired on September 11, 2019, in honor of FBI Agents who passed due to the 9-11 attack and related illnesses.
I have always wanted to be a police officer since I was a kid. If you want to become a police officer or federal agent, follow your dream and you will enjoy a great career. Transcript: "What inspired me to become a police officer and federal agent? Honestly, in my case, I have always wanted to be a police officer. From the days I was a little kid, I wrote on the wall of my bedroom when I was in sixth grade, I wrote, my name is Tom O'Connor, I want to be a police officer. And so that was written in crayon, but it was written in stone. And it's been something that I've always wanted to pursue. There's never been a time in my life that that wasn't the career path that I wanted to follow. And if that's something that you're really interested in, follow your dream, make it happen, and you will also enjoy a great career. It is like no other. So follow your dreams if that's where you want to go. And those are the types of people we want in law enforcement, people who have that dream to be a police officer and follow through."
Working in criminal justice is unpredictable and exciting - no two days are the same. It can be a rewarding but challenging career, and those in the field need support from their local and federal law enforcement community. Transcript: "What is the average day like for somebody working in criminal justice? It's a great question. And it's also one of the reasons that people are drawn to law enforcement and criminal justice overall. It's because no day is like the next. And you never can tell what's coming down the pike, what your next call is going to be and how that investigation is going to go. That really makes the job constantly changing and constantly interesting. And that's one of the reasons that those of us who have been in law enforcement really enjoyed our careers and would highly recommend it for anyone else. Even though right now the times are tough, we're just going to hang in there and hope that it comes around, that once again, the communities build that support, which we know is there. It just has to be built up and support your local law enforcement and your federal law enforcement because they're there for you. And when you join that organization, you're going to find that every day is a new adventure. So thank you very much and good luck with your careers."
My dad advised me to think about how I will feel if my decisions appear in the front page of my local newspaper, and if I'm okay with it, then go ahead, but if not, it's best to think twice. Transcript: "My father gave me a great piece of advice when I started my law enforcement career, and that was, as you make your decisions on a daily basis, think about, do you want to see this in the front page of your newspaper? So when you're making your next move, and all of a sudden, it's in the front page of your hometown local newspaper where people you know and love are going to read it and know something that you did, do you want to own that? And if you do, then do it. If you don't, think twice."
I am working on projects related to domestic violent extremism, which is caused by the spread of misinformation and disinformation through social media platforms. My goal is to educate people on the issues surrounding domestic violent extremism and try to bring it to the forefront like international terrorism was after 9/11. Transcript: "Currently, I'm working on projects related to domestic violent extremism. What it is, where it comes from, how we can get in front of the violence in an effort to prevent it. There is a large amount of misinformation, disinformation being put out through social media platforms which are radicalizing people in their political ideological followings. And that is on all sides of the political spectrum. We have to try and get in front of that before those single individuals that break away from the talk and actually go out and commit violent actions. We saw, and we can see almost weekly, some type of an event that takes place, whether it be the shootings from a failed political candidate who attacked candidates of the opposite political spectrum just this week. These are the types of things that conspiracy theories and misinformation that has been put out through social media has spread more into the mainstream. What my goal has been is to educate people on the issues surrounding domestic violent extremism and try and bring it to the forefront as international terrorism was following 9-11."
My favorite division within the law enforcement career path is Patrol as it provides a wide range of experiences and learning opportunities. Transcript: "What is my favorite division within the law enforcement career path? I think that's kind of a really interesting question because I think each division, whether you be talking about patrol, traffic, narcotics, and detective bureau investigations, all of those build on each other. And you learn something from each one of those assignments that you can use to better yourself in the next assignment. So narcotics, you really learn how to put a case together. Traffic, you learn how to see what's really going on inside something because every traffic stop is the potential for much more that can happen. Patrol, I mean, that is the circus, right? You go to every day, you're at some other event that is taking place in your jurisdiction, and you learn so much from domestic violence calls and just basic calls for assistance. Anything that you do, you're going to learn from it. All of those are stepping stones which make you a better law enforcement officer for whatever your end goal is. So don't ever say this is the end. Keep learning and keep moving on to something new, and you'll be better and better for it. [♪bass guitar playing♪ and no audio for the rest of video♪"
The most important skill for a law enforcement officer or federal agent is the ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing with people and build trust in the community. Transcript: "What is the one of the most important skills for law enforcement and police officer or federal agent? I think 100% the most important skill is the ability to communicate both verbally with people and with the community with your fellow officers and agents and be able to do that that communication in writing also is very important but I think the most important skill that we have in law enforcement is the ability to talk with people have people trust you build that trust in the community and just be able to look people in the eyes and have them believe that you're there to help them and if you can do that then you're gonna go far in your career as a law enforcement officer because you truly believe in what you're doing and we got to get away from the cell phone texting and get out of your car and talk to people that is what it is all about it's all about communication so thank you very much and I hope you found this helpful and it helps you communicate in the future"