It wasn’t easy, but I persevered and got inside an FBI field office. What I saw was…
AMAZING! It was so cool to be there! And it was like breaching Fort Knox to get inside. Seriously.
I was part of a tour group from my local Sisters in Crime chapter, a non-profit organization of lovers of mysteries and thrillers (both readers and authors.)
Weeks before the planned visit to the Jacksonville, Florida field office, I had to fill out forms giving the FBI permission to perform a full background check on me. Since they approved my visit, I’m guessing they totally missed my questionable internet searches such as “how to kill someone and make it look like an accident.”
At the appointed time for the visit, I was told to leave my cell phone and anything that contained GPS tracking technology in my car. So, after divesting myself of all of my clandestine spying equipment, I went into the
maximum security prison office visitor’s booth.
All the walls inside were glass from about waist-level up. A security guard was behind a thick wall of glass to my left and was apparently too scared to come out, because he stayed behind that wall the entire time. He spoke to me by talking into a phone on his side. His voice came through a speaker in the ceiling on my side. First order of business, “The Speech”–the warning about leaving my guns and weapons of mass destruction at home.
Then he instructed me to open a heavy, thick metal door in the bottom part of the wall and to place my purse, my notepad, and my Driver’s License inside the little cubby area behind the door. Once I did that and my door was closed, he opened a door on his side and took my belongings out.
I was then instructed to pass through a metal detector while the guard sent my belongings through an airport-type of scanner. He also instructed me to pass through to the next glass-walled room, after buzzing the lock to open the door for me.
Next was “The Search”. He checked every nook and cranny inside my rather large purse. He felt it up so much that I’m fairly certain there will be dozens of baby purses in my home nine months from now.
Once satisfied that I wasn’t hiding any evil clowns, he placed the purse, my notebook, and a temporary ID into another metal cubby inside the wall. He kept my Driver’s License hostage until the tour was over. Once the door was closed on his side of the cubby, he again directed me through the phone/intercom to open the door on my side to get my belongings.
After all of that, I had finally achieved access to…the courtyard outside the actual FBI building. (sigh) Did I mention the entire facility is surrounded by super-high black metal fencing that could probably stop a tank?
From there, I had to go through another series of security measures. Here’s the short version.
- FOUR FBI agents escorted our tour group of nine people the whole time.
- EVERYTHING is secured and requires codes typed into keypads.
- Before going through a door, the door behind you has to be closed and locked.
- If one person needs to go to the bathroom, we all go to the bathroom. The tour group stays together no matter what.
What did I see while inside the building? Here are some highlights.
- Guns. LOTS of guns. Some of them on the hips of FBI agents. Others in an armory.
- I got to hold a Tommy gun. It was HEAVY.
- I got to hold some bullet-resistant vests. The one the FBI SWAT team wears is super heavy. I could barely hold it up.
- There is a Samurai sword in the armory. Don’t ask me why.
- There are bomb blast doors inside.
- They have commercial washers and dryers inside for the ERT (Evidence Response Team) and others to use. Why? Because when you go to crime scenes in really grungy areas you don’t want to bring the roaches home with you (shiver).
- There was a presentation from a special agent who was on one of the ERT teams sent to Orlando to investigate the night club shooting.
- The gun guy showed us all of those guns. Did I mention they were heavy? Oh – and he was CUTE.
- Best part of the tour? The gym. There were two very special agents working out when we went inside. VERY special.
- We met the Special Agent in Charge. How cool is that? He’s the top guy. In case you didn’t know.
- There was a presentation by a female FBI Special Agent who talked about her specialty, white-collar crime.
- Then we got to ask questions. Crazy questions. And they answered us without even blinking. Which is kind of scary if you think about it.
- Oh, and I forgot to mention. The FBI had a photographer following us around the entire time, taking tons of pictures. To what end, I have no idea. But we did get one picture to take home with us (thus the picture posted on this blog.)
- At the end of the tour, we got to go to a very important last stop–the FBI gift shop. I am now the proud owner of a set of handcuffs and lanyard that say FBI on them. I do have to say, their gift shop was a bit disappointing. Very small without a lot to choose from. I highly recommend the gift shop at the LAPD Police Academy instead. But that’s another blog post.
- My hijacked Driver’s License was returned to me at the visitor’s booth at the end of the tour in exchange for my temporary FBI badge/sticker. Bummer. I wanted to keep the sticker and would have gladly forfeited my license in exchange.
Oh, and did I also mention that when anyone leaves the FBI
fortress compound employee parking lot, they have to punch in a special code to get the gate to open? I guess if you forget the code you have to live in the field office forever.
If I had to describe the visit in one word, I’d say INTENSE.
Now I’m off to correct the myths and errors in my current novel that includes some references to the FBI.
Lena Diaz is an award-winning author of romantic suspense for both Harlequin and Avon. Her books have been translated into French, German, Norwegian, Turkish, and Japanese and are sold in many countries around the world. With fifteen books published so far, she has three more scheduled to come out in 2017, and two (so far) scheduled to release in 2018. Lena lives in northeast Florida with her husband of 30 years, her son, her daughter, and her daughter’s cat–Weasley (yes, he’s named after a Harry Potter character.)
Learn more about Lena Diaz by visiting her website.
Thank you Kiss and Thrill for letting me repost this from my other website. I hope that all women out there get the skills to remain safe.
The theme of this blog is Top Secret Washington because of all the special things I get to do behind the scenes in D.C., but it’s also called this because of my spy series. I love empowered women who can take care of themselves — something I’ve always wanted to be, but don’t always achieve. Part of that takes skills — survival being the dominant skill set we all need, primarily as young women.
Here are some tips:
- Don’t walk and talk or text on your cell phone. Pay attention to your surroundings. Same goes for music on earbuds. Don’t get lost in the melody and forget where you are. Paying attention can save your life!
- Notice if anyone is watching you. Scan the area. Be vigilant.
- Walk with purpose, carry keys splayed between your fingers as a weapon. Don’t be so overloaded with packages you cannot defend yourself if…
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NEVER GO BACK! TOM CRUISE AS JACK REACHER! AGAIN!
I’ve read several of the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child in the hopes that I’d love them. After all, his books have received incredible acclaim and there are like a gazillion in the series–which is crack for a reader to have that many books to gobble up. Alas, after reading several, I haven’t quite fallen in love.
In 2012, he brought Jack Reacher to the big screen in the movie not so cleverly titled, JACK REACHER. I really enjoyed it, even though I was skeptical going in. After all, the book hero Jack Reacher is a huge guy. Literally. I think he’s six-feet-six or something. And Tom Cruise, well, isn’t. But just like Tom Cruise won me over starring in INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, even though his body type was completely different than the Lestat vampire in Anne Rice’s books, it worked. Completely. Of course it didn’t hurt that Brad Pitt was a co-star. But I digress.
Now, Tom cruise is starring in the second Jack Reacher movie, NEVER GO BACK. And I, for one, am looking forward to it. (To see the movie trailer on IMDB, click the picture.)
Yes, Tom Cruise is Scientology-Jump-On-Oprah’s-Couch-Crazy, but he’s also HOT. In my humble opinion. And even though I wouldn’t want to meet him in person, on screen he’s exceptional. There are few actors as good as him, again, in my opinion.
So, are you looking forward to the newest Jack Reacher movie? Or are you a die-hard Lee Child fan and believe that Tom ruins the character of Jack since they are about a foot apart in height? And if not Tom Cruise, then who would you want to see starring in the movies?
Just for fun, I’ll randomly pick a commenter to win a Kindle copy of HOSTAGE NEGOTIATION, my current release (details about the book appear below). I’ll announce the winner in the comments of this post, no later than Tuesday, September 20.
Many women went missing outside Mystic Glades. She escaped.
When he took the job, Zack Scott heard about the horrors waiting in the swamp. So when Kaylee Brighton dashed into the road like the devil was on her tail, the new police chief gave her a safe place to recover. Imprisoned for months, Kaylee could lead Zack to her captor. Though Zack swore to protect her, only Kaylee knew the darkness that awaited them if she returned. She couldn’t begin to understand what drove Zack, but she knew the importance of having him by her side. Because it wasn’t enough for Kaylee to have escaped. Now it was time to take back her life.
I hope you’ll give my MARSHLAND JUSTICE mini-series a try. You can see the whole series, and all of my books, highlighted on the BOOKS page of my website.
Wow. I’m so excited to tell you that Amazon has selected FALLEN as today’s flagship Kindle Daily Deal. The e-book will be on sale for 99 cents. I’m not exactly sure what “flagship” means, but I love the sound of it! It’s giving me the tingles all over. So in case anyone hasn’t had a chance, but would like to try a Cassidy & Spenser novel, this is a good opportunity.
I’ll post a buy link and a blurb for FALLEN below.
But first, in other news, many of you have been asking when my next Cassidy & Spenser is coming out. I thank you so much for your interest and encouragement! I have to admit that for a while, I struggled with book four. At a certain point in a series, it becomes difficult to make a story fresh and fun to tell. For me, that was book four.
Now all that has turned around. I’m currently putting the finishing touches on STOLEN (set to release next Valentine’s Day) and it is coming together in the most amazing way. I really love the story! In fact, it just might be my favorite Cassidy & Spenser to date. It’s a little different from my previous books, in that you’ll be meeting a very strong third character. She’s a victim who turns detective and takes control of her destiny. Cassidy & Spenser reach a big relationship milestone in STOLEN…but that’s all I’m saying about that.
Advance Readers Wanted
Thank you all so much for being faithful friends and readers! Would you like to read my books before they are released to the public? A limited number of advance e-copies of my books are available in exchange for an honest review. If anyone would like to become an advance reader for me, just drop me a line at Carey at CareyBaldwin dot com. You’ll need to be able to read in e-book form and be willing to post a review shortly after release.
A body just fell from the sky onto Hollywood Boulevard. When a beautiful prostitute is dumped onto the Walk of Fame, FBI profiler Atticus Spenser and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Caitlin Cassidy are called in to solve one of their most baffling cases yet. The media’s dubbed him the Fallen Angel Killer–a crazed murderer who’s leaving the bodies of high-priced call girls in Los Angeles tourist traps.
The killer has raised the stakes, demanding that a mysterious celebrity publically admit to his sinful secrets–or he’ll dispose of his latest kidnapped escort. With every “john” the team exposes in their search for Celebrity X, another Hollywood secret is revealed and another charmed life is left in ruins. With time running out, Spenser and Cassidy will do anything to find the twisted serial killer…before another innocent woman winds up the next grotesque tourist attraction.