Ms Voviette Morgan addressing students.
SAC Morgan is visiting South Africa to attend the Intelligence Transfer Centre’s (ITC) 11th Annual Leadership for Women in Law Enforcement Conference in Johannesburg.
Also on her to do wish list during her visit, was to experience the Real World (RW). According to her, speaking to the students was the #1 RW thing she wanted to do. “Since arriving in South Africa, I have met with the US Ambassador, news anchors and many other people, but this is the one meeting I looked forward to most,” said SAC Morgan.
A packed hall of curious students eager to see and hear from a real life FBI Special Agent, got a double dose of excitement and information when the two agents addressed them.
Morgan is responsible for the Public Corruption, Financial Crimes, Violent Crime, Civil Rights, Health Care Fraud, and Crimes against Children, Violent Gangs, and Organized Crime programs within Los Angeles. She has 300 agents, 32 supervisors and three deputies reporting to her.
Morgan is currently the only female African America SAC in the FBI. According to her, this is a sad state of affairs in law enforcement in general. “Diversity is key in our line of work. When we knock on doors trying to fight crime, people respond better to those who look like them or those they identify with,” said Morgan.
She advised the students to equip themselves with a good education and make the right choices in life, like not using drugs or becoming involved in criminal activities. “Good choices tend to open many doors,” she added.
Jennifer Dent also shared her experiences in the FBI with students. She emphasised the need to have a passion for criminal justice and not to use gender as an excuse not to take on challenges. “Women should not be scared of taking on challenges. The things that scare us most are often the things that change our lives,” said Dent.
Dent has worked in 28 countries on the African continent and has been with the FBI for 21 years. “There are other female SAC’s in the FBI, but Voviette is really special and most of us look up to her,” continued Dent.
She reminded the students that a career in law enforcement may not be the most glamorous or highest paying, but it is satisfying. Morgan agreed that one will never be rich working for the FBI but this noble career enables some 13 500 FBI agents to make a good, meaningful living.
Morgan did not grow up wanting to be in law enforcement. What changed her life was meeting an FBI agent in the early 1990s, which got her to apply and sign up. She received training at the FBI Academy at Quantico and was assigned to the Los Angeles Field Office in April 1997. There she worked on White Collar Crime matters, specifically Public Corruption and Health Care Fraud investigations.
During question time Prof Jacob Mofokeng, HOD of the department, commented on the importance of motivation and asked the SAC what students could do to look forward to a fulfilling career in law enforcement. “Mentors who can help students to navigate through the complex challenges of a career in law enforcement, could play an important role. Study hard and where ever possible do internships in criminal justice, even if you don’t get paid for them,” she said.
She explained that the FBI does not have law enforcement authority outside the US, but they work with local partners to solve crime. In South Africa, they work closely with the Hawks, the NPA, SIU, and other law enforcement agencies. To become an FBI agent, one needs to be a US citizen but South African police officers in middle management positions and at least five years’ experience could be trained by the FBI at their training academy in Quantico.
Nicodemus Maanwane, a Masters student from the Department thanked the SAC for the lecture and received an FBI challenge coin in return from Morgan.