Across the nation, law enforcement officers at the local, state, and federal levels share the common goal of fighting crime, solving cases, and catching criminals. Their education and training is geared towards providing them the necessary tools and skills to do so. However, in many instances, they are not adequately equipped with the understanding and sensitivity vitally necessary for interacting with crime victims and survivors.
Brad Garrett, a retired special agent with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation who served in the federal law enforcement capacity for twenty-two years and who now is a private investigator, recognizes the critical linkage between law enforcement officers, victims, and survivors. Throughout his career as an FBI agent, Garrett explains he always considered victims an integral and important part of the investigation. Victims, he acknowledges, continue to suffer in the aftermath of a crime. He stresses it is important to keep them a part of the case as much as possible, though he recognizes an investigator cannot reveal everything during the investigation and boundaries must be delineated. Garrett admits that keeping victims sufficiently informed aids them in feeling better overall and, at the same time, allows investigators to do their jobs better. "It's our responsibility and it's the right thing to do," says Garrett. Though he acknowledges this is not part of the investigator's job description and victim/witness programs exist to work with the victims, he says, "It's been my experience over 30+ years that victims and their families want to talk to investigators."
There are many reasons why victims and survivors want cases solved, and their rationale can encompass anger, revenge, or closure. "I've always made a point to keep victims informed. Can it be time consuming? Yes, it can. It's part of the job, and I would do it regularly" says Garrett. He admits that if investigators communicate with victims, they require less information because they feel they are part of the case.
Garrett served as the lead agent in the double homicide of two Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employees, Frank Darling and Lansing Bennett, at the agency's headquarters in McLean, Virginia in 1993. The incident involved an international manhunt resulting in the arrest of Mir Aimal Kasi. A total of five individuals were shot during this incident and three survived, though one was critically injured. Darling's wife, Judy Becker Darling, was in the car when her husband was shot; the perpetrator did not shoot at her, but, instead, he shot over the top of her head to kill her husband. When this horrible crime occurred, the Darlings had been married only three months.
Mrs. Darling was so impacted by the effect of this tragic incident that she was unable to continue living in the house where she and her husband resided, nor could she return to her job at the CIA where she had worked for thirteen years. Consequently, she moved to the Pittsburgh area. At the time, Garrett was overseas frequently, and he lost touch with Mrs. Darling. Not receiving the answers she wanted regarding the case, believing the case was not getting enough attention, and the reward offered was not high enough, Mrs. Darling complained to congressmen and former President Clinton. She lobbied Congress for more money and resources regarding the case. Consequently, the agency handed the case back to the investigators, and Garrett had to write a formal response, more than once, addressing the concerns. Subsequently, Garrett reconnected with Mrs. Darling, and he had quarterly meetings with her and her family that lasted several hours, at which time he updated them on information concerning the case. Garrett also told Mrs. Darling to contact him directly and informed her he would provide answers to her questions. The line of communication, therefore, remained constant.