High School Students Experience Real-Life NCIS
(February 20, 2010)
NCIS agents, Rick Dunwoodie and Nathan O'connor, speak to students at Albany High School.
LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. (2/11/2010) — It may be easy to confuse television
with reality. After all, that is what the producers, directors, make-up artists
and special effects staff get paid the big bucks for. Television has a way of
blurring the lines between fiction and the real world.
Albany High School celebrated Law and Justice Day Feb.1 - 2 by inviting two
special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Resident Unit here
at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany to speak. Their objective was to clarify
the ‘real world' role of an NCIS agent.
Rick Dunwoodie and Nathan O'Connor, special agents, NCISRU, were invited by Lynn
Miller, Law and Justice Program instructor at AHS. The special agents conducted
a series of presentations to hundreds of students in multiple classes over the
course of two days that focused on Counter/Antiterrorism 101.
Dunwoodie, a former Marine who has been with NCIS for six years, started the
presentation describing their role as “real life” NCIS agents, which
not at all like what they see on the popular CBS television series,
“NCIS.” “Part of
our mission is to work around the world. We happen to be in Albany, Georgia,
right now, but at any given moment, we can get a call and be off to anywhere,
like Djibouti, Africa,” he said.
O'Connor, a former Miami police officer, said after 9/11, he went to work for
the Federal Air Marshals Service. He urged the students to get a book, look up
what happened during that time and learn about it because it could happen here
as well. |
“This is why we are here today. There is a real threat and danger in this
country and just because you live here or are sitting in this cafeteria right
now, doesn't mean it cannot happen again, because it is very possible. I made
the decision to join NCIS because of all the things we do such as investigating
general crimes, homicide, rape, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, espionage
and others. It's kind of like being James Bond without the cool car,” he said.
Following a brief video about their mission in Djibouti, the special agents
showed and discussed a PowerPoint presentation on counter/antiterrorism.
Dunwoodie and O'Connor went into detail explaining what terrorism is,
surveillance gathering, the different types of attacks and the seven step cycle
to recognizing terrorism. They also focused on the current gang issue in Albany,
cyber attacks and cautioned the students about their use of text messaging,
Facebook and MySpace.
“If you think we are up here talking to you about stuff that doesn't happen or
can't happen here, or that someone in this room might be a terrorist, just know
that it can happen. There is a lot more that goes on in this world than what you
see outside, or here in Albany. It can affect you here,” O'Connor said. “Pay
attention to your surroundings and be watchful.”
Dunwoodie briefly described what an international terror organization is and
gave the example of Al Qaeda, the organization responsible for 9/11.
“It is all of our responsibility to be on the lookout and aware of suspicious
activity, then report it. There are terrorists among us and they don't have to
come from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Lebanon, Afghanistan or other countries in
the Middle East. They can come from right here in Georgia and can come in the
form of the Ku Klux Klan, Earth Liberation Front or various other organizations
that have issues with our government. They take matters into their own hands to
get their message across just like other terrorist organizations,” Dunwoodie
Another student asked about the educational requirements for becoming a special
agent. Both agents stressed the importance of getting a college degree.
Chris Rowe, a senior who plans to attend Georgia State University in the fall
said, “I am going to change my major to criminal justice after hearing from them
today. I thought you had to be on the police force to do what they do, but I
plan to research it more. I'm now interested in their field.”
Miller has 18 years in law enforcement, but has been teaching law and justice at
AHS for two years. She said she invited Dunwoodie and O'Connor out to talk to
the students because February is career and technical education awareness month
and they just completed a unit on policing and terrorism.
“I wanted to bring awareness to other students who may not be a part of our law
and justice program here. After working for years as a police, probation and
parole officer, it is very important for them to hear what the agents shared.
With so much going on in the world and in this community, it is important for
them to see and hear from the professionals who deal with terrorism on a daily
basis. This will make them mindful of things that may not look or sound right,”
Dunwoodie spent 11 years as an active duty Marine, three of which were here in
“It is everyone's responsibility to fight against terrorists and not just our
job as agents. We often act on information we receive from the public and our
being here today will help instill a sense of security in these students to know
that there are people like us working proactively to prevent another tragedy
from occurring,” he said.
O'Connor has been with NCIS for one year after spending nine years as a police
officer and six years (total) with the Federal Marshals Service as part of the
Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Miami.
“I think it is extremely important for the students to hear this because they
probably aren't exposed to this type of lecture or information. It is not part
of their daily lives or classroom instruction and their day usually consists of
math and other classes, practice, chores, hanging with friends or posting their
entire lives online. There is a lot more going on out there that they should be
aware of, especially when they start thinking about their career paths or what
they want to do after high school,” he said.
O'Connor continued, “There is a known crime and gang problem in this community
and close to this school. It is important for the students who want to do good
and who are not affiliated with any of that to be aware of their surroundings so
they do not become victims themselves. They also need to be careful about
broadcasting their information to their friends through text messages and other
According to Alexis Hall, a senior, she was glad the agents came and talked to
“This really should have been offered to the whole school in the gym because all
of us need to hear this,” she said.
Article and photo by Pamela Jackson
Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany
Marine Corps News
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