100 Years of African-American Special Agents: Aaron LaSure
Retired Special Agent Aaron LaSure served for 22 years in the FBI before retiring earlier this year as a senior executive inspector in the Bureau's Inspection Division. He shared his thoughts on his career, the FBI, and the role of African Americans during events in November 2019 marking the 100-year anniversary of the first African-American special agent, James Wormley Jones.
I've always wanted to be an FBI agent, and be in law enforcement. And that was a desire of mine throughout high school, when I was young. Just actually watching the FBI Story, I used to watch it all the time, every time it came on TV. It's black and white, but that really drew me to the FBI, understanding what it did and because of the FBI Story, I wanted to come into the FBI and work espionage and counter intelligence matters. And that's what I ended up doing.
When I finally got into the FBI in 1997, and arrived at the Academy, I was the only African American in my class of 50. There were seven African Americans in the classes above me, but they all graduated. And at one particular point in time, we were having classes every two weeks, I was the only African American agent walking around at the Academy, and there were classes coming in every two weeks during that time period in ‘97, to make up for the hiring freeze at that time. It was pretty interesting for me.
I think it's very important for any law enforcement organization to mirror the community that it serves. If you don't have that, you cannot connect with that community because, that's the first thing that they see and trust. If they see someone like themselves, then that may take down a barrier to helping you to solve some of the issues and challenges that any community may have. It is the diversity of thought; it is also bringing in individuals who have different backgrounds, that are rich, and that can contribute to any community, but also can contribute to solving any problem that you may face.
I think for me, to recognize African-American agents is one of the greatest things that the Bureau could do. To recognize the diversity within its ranks, to recognize those who have sacrificed, along with all of our brothers and sisters who serve within the Bureau, is amazing.
I think over time in our history, a lot of folks who have a different background, a different race, as African Americans, we are overlooked in our history at times, and I believe that this is one of the most important things that the Bureau could do, to help long-term in building a great foundation of individuals who care about this country, who are diverse, who are African American, who want to serve in a different capacity.
The struggle still continues. But we have to have people who are willing to step forward and take on that challenge to take the mantle. If I see talent in someone, if I see an ability and a drive in someone and I think that they can offer something to the Bureau, I would strongly recommend that they seek that out. I speak to them about my particular experience in what the Bureau can offer them because it offered me so much. It offered me opportunities that I never dreamt of during my career.
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