December 30, 2010, - 5:00 pm
**** UPDATE: ICE Agent Responds to ICE Top Cop Dinkins – SCROLL DOWN ****
Recently, I posted a memo from a top Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official, James Dinkins, eliminating the title of “Senior Special Agent,” given to ICE agents with several years experience on the job. As I noted, several agents were upset by this and I viewed it as an attack on achievement and experience in ICE, an agency in which morale keeps getting lower because agents are hamstrung from doing their jobs by Janet Napolitano, Barack Obama, and dumb ICE politics from mostly non-law-enforcement types trying to run the show. It’s not a strictly “inside baseball” thing because, as I noted, this is the largest agency in Homeland Security and the lead agency on important national security issues, including immigration and international smuggling operations. We want the best agents in this agency. And the best tend to go where they will get the most recognition and reward for their achievement.
Top ICE Cop Jim Dinkins Responds to DebbieSchlussel.com
As I mentioned, I know Jim Dinkins, who is the Director of Investigations for ICE–a name since changed to Executive Director of Homeland Security Investigations. And Jim responded, disputing some of my and his agents comments on the site. Below are his responses, which he gave me permission to post here (he knows I am Jewish, thus the “Happy Holidays” as opposed to “Merry Christmas”):
From: Dinkins, James A
Date: Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 12:45 PM
I see I made the news with the elimination of the Senior Special Agent title. Just so you know, it was totally my decision. Have you ever known me to be anyone’s puppet?
The reason I eliminated it was because when the title “Senior Special Agent” was created in USCS [DS: U.S. Customs Service] decades ago, it was at the GS13 level and had to be earned through a competitive promotional process. It generally took at least ten years or more and some agents never became Senior Special Agents and retired as Special Agents. Then in the mid 90′s, USCS was able to raise the journeyman grade for all Special Agents from GS12 to GS13. With the journeyman level raised to GS13, all fully performing Special Agents become Senior Special Agents in as little as 5 years, and no more then 6 years. That said, I don’t think the title was applicable to the level of experience gained in that short amount of time. While we have great hard working and dedicated Special Agents, I don’t think the title does justice to the individual efforts of the true senior experts in the field.
In my response, I noted that while I know he’s no-one’s puppet, with the elimination of certain titles, some non-law enforcement people have been eased into law enforcement positions at ICE, sadly.
And like I said, I think titles and designations are important. ICE Agents and other readers, am I right?
**** UPDATE, 12/31/10: An ICE Agent Responds to Jim Dinkins. He writes:
I just wanted to weigh in on the whole Senior Special Agent issue. I, too, am fairly pissed off about losing the title. I worked very hard to get GS 13. And unlike most other offices in ICE at the time, agents where I worked had to write a justification memo to the SAC [DS: Special Agent in Charge] on why they deserved to be a 13. It meant something to me when I got my 13, and to everyone else in my office because our boss didn’t let slackers get their 13. I also take particular delight in how the title annoys the FBI agents I deal with, because they are all like petulant little children who eye and envy the title like it’s the latest super cool video game their parents won’t let them have. There is a HUGE difference in what a busy HSI agent does on the border and what ANY other federal agent does as far as day to day work. Over the years, I have worked with them all. Even the Annointed Ones in the FBI. No one comes close to us.
After reading Dinkins’ response, I understand his logic, and partially agree. Where I work, we have a younger guy who just got his 13, but he has never made a criminal arrest, never been an affiant for a search warrant, never worked a complex case. A slacker, who has been able to sit back in the weeds, and avoid heavy lifting. On the flip side, another agent I know has done all that and more, and has been on the job less than a year. The kid is a superstar in the making, and deserves a 13 now.
Solution? Leave the title. But put firm requirements in place to meet before promotion. Is that so difficult? Apparently so. This all reminds me of a line from the movie, “The Incredibles.” The villain is going to sell gadgets to the public so they can have super powers like the superheros “Cuz when EVERYONE is special, no one is.”
BTW, my business cards say Senior Special Agent. And I have a lot of them.
Tags: Customs, Director of Investigations, executive director, Homeland Security Investigations, HSI, ICE, Immigration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, James Dinkins, Jim Dinkins, merit, Senior Special Agent, titles, U.S. Customs Service, USCS