Copyright © 2015 Albuquerque Journal
Former Albuquerque police detective turned FBI agent David Bowdich has investigated Mexican drug cartel kidnappings, Bloods, Crips, the Mexican Mafia and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, as well as supervising counterterroism investigations in nearly two decades with the bureau.
Oh, and he’s been a member of the FBI SWAT team in San Diego.
Now, the Albuquerque native, and the son of one of the area’s best known and respected lawmen, Joe Bowdich, has a new job. FBI Director James Comey has appointed him to assistant director in charge of the bureau’s Los Angeles field office. That makes him in charge of one of the bureau’s largest field offices in the country.
Born and raised in Albuquerque, Bowdich, 45, graduated high school from Temple Baptist Academy in 1987 and New Mexico State University in 1991. He has a master’s degree from Georgetown University.
“I got a great foundation here with APD,” he said.
Albuquerque police Assistant Chief Robert Huntsman was a sergeant at the police academy when Bowdich was a cadet.
“He was very ambitious, very smart and very physically fit,” he said. “He was an informal leader for the other cadets.”
Since 2012, Bowdich had been the special agent in charge of the Los Angeles field office’s counterterrorism investigations, which oversaw counterterror operations in Los Angeles and surrounding areas, as well as southeast Asia.
During that time, Bowdich supervised agents who investigated and brought charges in the fatal shooting of a Transportation Security Administration agent at Los Angeles International Airport in 2013. They also investigated several cases against LA-area residents who attempted to leave the country and fight for al-Qaida in Afghanistan, and those who made it overseas to fight alongside a terror organization.
Those LA agents are still investigating two U.S. special forces members killed by an explosive device in the Philippines in 2009, among other cases, Bowdich said.
He said radicalized citizens joining the ranks of terrorists overseas are a growing threat to the country.
“People will ask, ‘What’s the big deal? It’s just one more fighter abroad,'” he said in a telephone interview. “Our concern is always their return, and protecting our homeland and our troops.”
In his new position, Bowdich will direct 711 federal agents and more than 1,300 employees. The field office has more than 19 million people in its “area of responsibility,” he said.
The LA field office did the bulk of the investigation into a recent hacking scandal that rocked Sony Pictures Entertainment, which federal investigators have linked to North Korea.
Bowdich said overseas terrorists do pose a threat to American citizens, but he warned against letting a fear of terrorists lead to prejudice – both by American citizens and federal agents.
“The FBI has to be ever cautious of not casting suspicion on someone based on their ethnicity and religion,” he said. “We have to look at behavior and not the other two factors.”
Bowdich worked as an Albuquerque officer and detective from 1991 to 1995. He was a patrol officer in the Southeast and North Valley area commands, and a detective in the North Valley.
Bowdich started with the FBI in San Diego in 1995 and was a sniper in the agency’s SWAT team. He became a supervisor in 2005 and was in charge of a multi-agency gang task force, and eventually all non-white-collar crime investigations in the San Diego field office.
While in that position, the FBI in a news release credited him for bringing cases against 43 kidnappers working as part of a kidnapping cell for a Mexican cartel on both sides of the border. Bowdich also oversaw the investigation of two U.S. Border Patrol agents killed in the line of duty.
His father, Joe Bowdich, was the Bernalillo County sheriff from 1995 to 2002 and also worked for the Albuquerque Police Department for more than 30 years. His grandfather was a deputy chief for the Albuquerque Fire Department.