Home News Stories 2012 August Celebrating Women Special Agents, Part 5 Videos My Harrison

My Harrison

My Harrison


My early interest in law enforcement started at age 10. At that time I would see officers in my neighborhood and I grew up in the housing projects in Tampa, Florida. So usually when we saw law enforcement officers it was because something had gone wrong. But I really admired them, the way they carried themselves, the uniforms, just the professionalism and I said to myself, that’s what I want to be one day.

And at that time I did not know about my family history in law enforcement and everything I did from that point on was to become a law enforcement officer. I talked to officers. Everything I did in school was geared toward that. And sure enough at age 17 when I finished my graduation, high school graduation, I went straight to a law enforcement agency. And I was ready. I wanted my hat, my gun, my car, everything. They took one look at me and started laughing. But they did give me a job. They saw that I had heart. So they let me write parking tickets until I was old enough to become a law enforcement officer and I did that.

Everything that I did went toward that goal. I didn’t drink alcohol, I didn’t smoke cigarettes, all the things that could have led to going, taking a different direction, I did none of those things. My goal was to be a law enforcement officer. And when my friends were going to football games and partying, I went to school. I ended up graduating high school early but everything I did was focused on being a law enforcement officer. The things that were going on around me were things that I couldn’t control. What I could control was me.

My first night in the academy, we all were asked to stand up to talk about what our goals were with the FBI. And I recall standing up and my statement was by February 3, 2005, my goal is to be a special agent in charge. And to my surprise, February 1, 2005, I received a call from Director Mueller naming me as special agent in charge of the Memphis Division. So I did it with two days to spare.

It’s said that the Empire State Building is the nearest place to heaven on earth, well I felt that way about Memphis. Memphis was absolutely of all my law enforcement experience the best place that I ever worked. The place, the people, the cases that we worked, the relationships that we built, it was remarkable. And one of the major cases that was worked while I was there was the Tennessee Waltz case. And that case we indicted five sitting members of the general assembly at one time. That case entailed 12 indictments against 12 politicians and we convicted all 12. And that was a mark that was heard around the country.

I never saw myself as an individual person, it was always part of a team. When I was on the sheriff’s department, when I went out to make an arrest, I had to do it myself, and I did that and there was no problem in doing it. But when I joined the Bureau, that’s one thing that you’re not allowed to do. If you have to go out on an arrest, you have to go out and confront somebody, you never do it alone. The Bureau has superior firepower and superior manpower and to me that was so important to be a part of that team because I knew that no matter when I went out, what I had to do, that there was going to be a team of us doing it. It’s always a team approach. There was no I there, it was always we, and that’s what I liked about it.

Celebrating Women Special Agents

About This Series

On July 17, 1972, the first two women of the modern era entered the FBI Training Academy at Quantico, Virginia. Fourteen weeks later they emerged as special agents. Over the next 40 years, women agents reshaped the Bureau, achieving leadership posts across the U.S. and around the world. This series looks at their roles, their challenges, and the rewards of a demanding career as a G-woman.

- Part 1: A New Chapter is Opened
- Part 2: Two Women Blaze a Trail
- Part 3: Early Pioneers Tell Their Stories
- Part 4: Pop Culture’s Take on Women Special Agents

- Part 5: A Diversity of Backgrounds and Experiences
- Part 6: Working Undercover

- Part 7: Two Made the Ultimate Sacrifice 

In Their Own Words
 Agents past and present talk about what brought them to the Bureau, their challenges, and their place among four decades of pioneers.
 Collage of Women Agents (Black and White)
“You don’t want people to say she’s a good female agent. You want people to say she’s a good agent.. That’s what you strive for.” 
— Mary Rook, Special Agent in Charge, Anchorage FBI

 As Seen on TV 
Marsha Thomason of “White Collar” and Gillian Anderson of “The X-Files” thank the Bureau’s women agents for their service.
 Marsha Thomason and Gillian Anderson




On July 17, 1972, the first two women of the modern era entered the FBI Training Academy at Quantico, Virginia.
This is the second story in our series marking the 40-year anniversary of women special agents.