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Legendary San Francisco FBI Agent Shares Advice For People Seeking A Career In Law Enforcement

Bay Area resident Terry Turchie has had a long and distinguished career with the FBI. In 1998, Mr. Turchie led the Unabomb Task Force that finally captured and convicted Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, in one of the most famous criminal investigations of the 20th century.

(Photo Courtesy of Terry Turchie)

After more than three decades of public service with the FBI and later at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Mr. Turchie is now a partner with TK Associates, LLC and co-author of the forthcoming book "Unabomber: How the FBI Broke Its Own Rules to Capture the Terrorist Ted Kaczynski."

A leading expert in law enforcement, Mr. Turchie has graciously offered words of advice to people interested in entering a career with the FBI.

What academic preparation was necessary for you to enter a career with the FBI?

"After graduating from De Anza High School in Richmond, California, in 1968, I pursued a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice at California State University in Sacramento. In 1972, I went to work for the FBI in Washington, D.C. as a clerical support employee. While in D.C., I entered an off-campus program of Southern Illinois University and earned a Master's Degree in Government and Political Science. In February of 1976, I was appointed an FBI Special Agent. For a 26-year-old, it seemed like a pretty cool thing at the time."

What was it like to lead two of the most important investigations in the history of the FBI?

"Leading the Unabomb Task Force from 1994 until February of 1998 and the fugitive search for Olympic bomber and police killer Eric Robert Rudolph in the mountains of North Carolina from March of 1998 until March of 1999 were certainly the highlights of my FBI career. Having the opportunity to get to know the courageous victims of these violent crimes and their families, and working with such dedicated law enforcement professionals, left an impression that will never go away. At one point during the search for Eric Rudolph, our fugitive task force grew to well over 250 investigators, forensic experts, behavioral scientists and tactical team members, representing 27 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies."

What career advice can you share for individuals interested in a career in law enforcement or the FBI?

"A deep dedication to public service and the willingness to work long days are of paramount importance to anyone considering a career in law enforcement or the FBI. Patience, the ability to effectively manage stress and an understanding that careers in law enforcement can sometimes expose an individual to the unpleasant side of our society are attributes that anyone desiring such a career should possess, or work to nurture and develop. Even before college, becoming friends with and having potential 'mentors' who are already working in law enforcement can be helpful in understanding what the future can look like. As demanding as a law enforcement career can be, the rewards are unmatched. Solving crimes of all sorts, taking on corruption in politics, protecting America's national security and identifying and arresting violent criminals while working alongside great colleagues and on behalf of the American people make the years go by way too fast. For information about the variety of careers available in the FBI, I would recommend taking a look at the FBI website."

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on

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