Albuquerque FBI Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade will be taking over what amounts to the FBI’s internal affairs division at the end of May, at a time when political controversy swirls around the agency’s headquarters at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C.
Wade will become the bureau’s assistant director for the Inspections Division, the unit that conducted the interviews with Deputy Director Andrew McCabe about leaks to the news media that eventually led to McCabe’s firing 26 hours before he was eligible to retire.
The same unit also conducted investigations that cleared McCabe of conflict-of-interest allegations, some made by President Donald Trump on Twitter.
The FBI as an agency has also been targeted for criticism by Trump on Twitter and is part of Washington’s 24/7 political news cycle.
“It will definitely be interesting,” Wade said of his new job during an interview with the Journal on Wednesday.
Wade was appointed Special Agent in Charge of the Albuquerque office in December 2015. His career with the FBI began in 1996, and he worked in Albuquerque previously supervising SWAT and counterterrorism programs.
As agent in charge, Wade supervised 250 employees, including agents in offices in Albuquerque, Gallup, Farmington, Roswell and Las Cruces, investigating everything from bank robberies to national security cases, Mexican cartels, crimes in Indian Country, white-collar crime and public corruption.
It is a job he describes as fun and challenging.
Wade was asked to apply for the job of heading the Inspections Division along with others and was selected after a competitive process.
He was asked during his Journal interview why he is entering the Washington maelstrom.
“The bureau has been extremely good to me for 22 years,” Wade said. “This job is an opportunity to give back.”
Much of what the Inspections Division does rarely garners headlines, and most of it is typical law enforcement self-policing.
The unit investigates everything from FBI employee off-duty drunken driving incidents to agent-involved shootings and any use of force by agents.
Another section within the division conducts routine audits of FBI offices around the country to make sure agents are following standard procedures in conducting criminal investigations, such as handling informers and evidence.
“It is extremely important to hold ourselves accountable,” Wade said.
The Inspections Division conducted an investigation into the failure of the FBI to respond to a tip received on its public access line about the Parkland, Fla., school shooter earlier this year.
The FBI admitted that it received a detailed tip about suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz having firearms and making threats in January, but failed to pass it on to the FBI’s Miami field office to investigate. Cruz is charged with killing 17 students and teachers in the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The division is also looking at the entire system of handling public access line calls.
Wade said that as he leaves Albuquerque, the most important advice to his successor will be to “focus on our partnerships with local, state and federal law enforcement departments.”
“There is good cooperation,” he said. “There are no territorial battles that you find in other places but you have to foster that cooperation.”