WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
Today is the final day on the job for the head of New York’s FBI office. Janice Fedarcyk, the highest-ranking female officer in the field, will retire after 25 years with the FBI and two years at the helm of the nation’s largest field office. During her tenure, she oversaw terror cases, insider trading probes and other investigations. She is leaving to run a consulting firm in Washington, D.C.
You have been a trailblazer for women in law enforcement. Did gender make a difference in your career?
I've never looked at my career from a gender perspective. I think most women, and I'll speak for law enforcement because that is what I know, want to be judged just as any of their colleagues would be judge, as their peers would be judged and that is on their work ethic, their performance. And in instances of women moving into management ranks based on their leadership skills and abilities.
Did you feel there was resistance? In Nevada when you started out as a patrol officer, how many women were there on the job?
Well, I was on a local police department. My graduating class from the police academy had ... six of us graduating in a class of probably 40 males. And there were not that many women at the time on the department. This goes back to 1981. ... We were in uniform on the street and we were expected to hold your own because at that time the department fielded one officer cars, which meant that at least until potentially back up arrived, you were on your own and you really did had to have the ability to handle yourself on the streets.
What are some things that you learned along the way that you wished you'd known better than when you started?
Well I think one of the things that you don't really have a good sense of before you join an organization like the FBI is that this is not a 9-to-5 job. We work around the clock. We work the weekends the holidays. So you miss a lot of the family events — some planned, some not planned. And you really just have to be ready when the call comes and you have to go and respond.
The other part of it is coming into the FBI you are not just taking a job. This truly is about mission. This truly is about protecting America from threats small and large, which continue to evolve as our world continues to change.
During your time here, there was lot of ink spilled about the FBI and the NYPD. How do you think that relationship is now and what do you think drives story that story line?
I think the relationship is in a good place. Just by way of example, the Joint Terrorism Task Force has over 50 different agencies participating. Our largest partner in that effort is the New York City Police Department. That's not the only joint effort and initiative that we have ongoing with them. So does it sell if you can paint a picture that there is this constant fighting between FBI and NYPD? You know, maybe it sells a few newspapers or makes a great sound bite. But I think people really need to look at what's getting done in partnership and accentuate the positive as opposed to always wanting to lean to the negative.