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Today@Sam Article

Alumnus Trades In Felonies With NCIS Job

Oct. 5, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Beth Kuhles

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As a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigation Service in Memphis covering eight states, Chad Willie has to develop an expertise in a lot of different specialties.

“This is the only agency that can charge people under the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice), all 50 state laws and in federal court,” said Willie, a 1995 Sam Houston State University alumnus. “You are a Jack of all trades.”

After spending 10 years in the Arlington Police Department, Willie, in 2005, joined NCIS, where he is responsible for all felony criminal investigations for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps and their dependents. Among the cases he tackles are rapes, death investigations, murders, computer crimes, child pornography, and fraud. His office covers Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri and Arkansas.

“We deal with everything from computer crimes to rape and murder,” said Willie.

In 2008, Willie was given the "Law Enforcement Public Service Award" from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia for case work on a narcotics and fugitive investigation.

In addition to criminal investigations, NCIS is assigned to protection duty for U.S. officials and foreign dignitaries, as well as counterterrorism and counter intelligence.

To add to the diversity of the tasks he performs, Willie recently returned from a three-year assignment in Japan, where he was the sole NCIS criminal investigator for the island of Kyushu.

In addition to the language, Willie had to learn the customs and traditions of the Japanese culture.

“It is very interesting when you have to liaison with a foreign government,” said Willie. “You have to learn their customs and ways of doing business. Like in Japan, they would never do anything directly. You had to have a meeting first; you had to have tea. They also don’t ask a lot of direct questions.”

While in Japan, Willie was the lead investigator for a case in which a Navy master chief tried to murder his entire family.

As a civilian employee at NCIS, Willie began his career in Norfolk, Va., which is home to a fleet of 150 ships and a hotbed of activities for dignitaries. During his tour there, he helped with the protection details for then-Vice President Dick Cheney and the Queen of England. During his current assignment, he serves on the protection detail for the Secretary of the Navy.

“When the queen was here, I carried the crown jewels—or what she had of the crown jewels at the time—on the plane,” Willie said.

After graduating from Sam Houston State in 1995, Willie landed a job with the Arlington Police Department, serving in many different capacities over his decade-long service. He was a patrol officer, school resource officer and field training officer.

“It taught me the basics of investigations before I got to the federal level,” Willie said. “I got hands-on education in law enforcement. I recommend that students get out there on the street and apply what they learned before investigating a federal job. I learned defense tactics, arrest tactics and a basic level of investigation. I made arrests every day.”

Willie said he had always wanted to be a federal special agent after completing his internship with U.S. Customs at Bush International Airport in Houston. During his internship, the agency landed a $9 million heroin seizure case, and he helped transport evidence and manually count the money.

“I was part of the broad picture of how things worked,” Willie said. “It gave me an opportunity to watch trained investigators coordinate a multi-agency task force.”

Willie said he chose SHSU because of its reputation in criminal justice and its small, hometown atmosphere. He remembers his classes with Glen Kercher, who taught him the psychological aspects of criminal justice.

“It was a good foundation, and I felt at home here,” said Willie. “It was a small, hometown atmosphere with fantastic faculty.”

Willie also has advice for current students.

“You have to work as hard as you can and, if you apply yourself, you can be anything you want to be,” said Willie. “I tried to achieve at the highest level.”

Willie will return to Sam Houston State University on Oct. 19 for “Real Talk with CJ” to discuss his career and opportunities available at NCIS. The presentation will begin at 2 p.m. in the Criminal Justice Center’s Kerper Courtroom and will be carried live on the Internet at cjcenter.org/live. The public is invited to attend.


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