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Special Agent in Charge (GS-1811)

The GS-1811 series includes all classes of positions, the duties of which are to advise on, administer, supervise, or perform investigation, inspection, or enforcement work primarily concerned with alleged or suspected offenses against the laws of the United States, or such work primarily concerned with determining compliance with laws and regulations.

There are 192,929 federal workers employed in the GS-1800 Investigation Group [1] working within all Executive Branch departments, and in many large and small independent agencies with 3,800 employed overseas. [2] Even small agencies employ investigators including the Federal Maritime Election Commission (3), and 15 with the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.

Keith Toomey, is a special agent in charge, with the Fish & Wildlife Service’s Professional Responsibility Unit, in Shepherdstown, WV.


Keith Toomy, Special Agent in Charge (FWS) [3]

Keith Toomy, Special Agent in Charge (FWS)

The largest employers of the Investigative Group are the Department of Homeland Security [4] (130,343), 28,541 with the Department of Justice [5], the Department of Agriculture [6] employs 8,126, and there are 3,802 employed with the Department of Transportation [7]. All of the cabinet level agencies employ workers in the GS-1800 group with 34,265 in the GS-1801 general inspection, investigation, enforcement and compliance series, 42,442 in the GS-1811 criminal investigation position [1], over 20,000 in border patrol enforcement GS-1896, and 21,038 in the GS-1985 customs and border protection.

Don’t overlook any agency in your job search as there are positions available in most agencies.

Q and A with Keith Toomey

Why did you want to become a Special Agent in Charge? I felt it was a great responsibility and challenge to lead this office. It provided stability to the office and has allowed our program to continue to develop and evolve. I was lucky to have many great mentors at the county, state and federal level as my career progressed like Danny James and Nick Susalis to name a few. This position has allowed me to share some of that experience, but as General Gray said when I joined the Marine Corps years ago “you are first and foremost a rifleman, everything else is secondary.”  I still consider myself a working agent and handle a case load.  I think it’s important to stay current and connected to those investigative skills.

What is the most challenging part of your job? The most challenging part of this particular position is trying to balance the caseload against the amount of time our PRU agents are traveling away from their families handling cases nationwide and the stress that results from that time away.

What is the most dangerous part of your job? This profession at any level has been and will always be inherently dangerous. I constantly remind our officers and agents they need to have the courage to take decisive action when required and not worry about the current level of anti-police rhetoric in the public or press.  We were called to be and the Service employs us to be law enforcement officers which at times means things will not always be pretty or easy.  We need to be safe and go home when the work is done.

What is the best part of being a Special Agent in Charge? The best part of this position is the daily diversity.  We handle a variety of cases for the Service besides traditional Internal Affairs issues and we teach at many levels within the Service and to outside agencies as well.  We are also very lucky being located within Jefferson County, WV to have a great working relationship with the local Sheriff’s Office and State Police.

Would you recommend this job occupation? I would recommend this position but it is not for everyone.  I think the same goes for the profession as a whole.  This occupation is dangerous, challenging and requires a ton of common sense along with communication skills.  There will be internal and external political frictions each requiring your attention and tactful handling. At the end of day, it is also a very satisfying and rewarding career as long has you have the moral courage for it.

Office of Law Enforcement

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement is responsible for focusing on threats to wildlife that are detrimental.  These threats involve illegal trade, unlawful commercial exploitation, habitat destruction, and environmental contaminants. They will investigate wildlife crimes, regulates wildlife trade, helps Americans understand and obey wildlife protections laws, and works in partnership with international, state, and tribal counterparts to conserve wildlife resources.

The work of this office includes:

When fully staffed, the Office of Law Enforcement includes 261 special agents and some 140 wildlife inspectors. Most are “officers on the beat” who report through eight regional law enforcement offices. A headquarters Office of Law Enforcement provides national oversight, support, policy, and guidance for Service investigations and the wildlife inspection program; trains Service law enforcement personnel; fields a special investigations unit; and provides budget, management and administrative support for the Office of Law Enforcement.

The Office of Law Enforcement has the Clark R. Bavin National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory [8] which conducts scientific analyses that support federal, state, and international investigations of wildlife crime. They also maintain a National Wildlife Property Repository [9], which supplies abandoned and forfeited wildlife items to schools, universities, museums, and non-government organizations for public education, and operates the National Eagle Repository [10], which meets the needs of Native Americans for eagles and eagle feathers for religious use.

Job Requirements of a GS-1811

The GS-1811 job series covers positions which supervise, lead, or perform work involving planning, conducting, or managing investigations related to alleged or suspected criminal violations of Federal laws. The federal government employs 42,442 in this occupation. The work involves:

Work in this series primarily requires knowledge of criminal investigative techniques, rules of criminal procedures, laws, and precedent court decisions concerning the admissibility of evidence, constitutional rights, search and seizure, and related issues in the conduct of investigations. Criminal investigators conduct investigations of alleged or suspected criminal violations of Federal laws. The Federal statute or law which may have been violated does not determine whether a position should be classified in this series. The actual process and the knowledge and skills used to investigate crimes determine the appropriate series of the position. Classification into the 1811 series should not be an automatic process but should be based on the work of the individual position. Work primarily requires knowledge of:

Criminal investigative work is characterized by the types and scope of crimes investigated and the organization and sophistication of the criminals. Additional characteristics of criminal investigative work include: planning and conducting investigations extending over protracted periods of time; assignments made primarily on a referral or case basis; and an emphasis on identifying and apprehending individuals for criminal prosecution. During the course of their careers, criminal investigators may rotate through various assignments to include protective details, asset forfeiture investigations, and multi-jurisdictional task forces.   Some criminal investigators perform or oversee undercover assignments as a regular and recurring part of their assigned duties. Criminal investigator positions will normally be found in organizations whose primary purpose includes functions typically performed by criminal investigators, such as organizations responsible for performing inspection, compliance, enforcement, prevention, or deterrence functions.

Medical Requirements

The special agent in charge is a very specialized job series.  It involves skills such as problem solving, use of fire arms, knowledge of various law enforcement regulations, tactical field operations, criminal investigation and analysis. This is a job occupation worth checking out.


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