Jim Harrison has built an impressive résumé in almost 17 years as an FBI agent, and he doesn’t have to kill you if he tells you about it.
The supervisory senior resident agent of the FBI Atlanta Division’s Augusta and Statesboro offices oversees investigative programs for 26 counties in the area, but he hasn’t always called the Augusta area home.
Harrison, 46, joined the agency in 1997 after serving as a commissioned officer in the Air Force Security Police, where he rose to the rank of major. Before his service in the Air Force, he enlisted in the Navy.
Though he always planned on a military career, Harrison said he never thought he would join the FBI, admitting that the agency always seemed to be covered in a shroud of mystery in his younger years.
“It was a fluke,” Harrison said. “It wasn’t something that I was drawn to at a young age. I had never met an FBI agent until I was in the Air Force.”
After joining the agency, Harrison received his first assignment with the FBI’s St. Louis Division, where he investigated bank robberies, kidnappings and murders for hire. While in St. Louis, he served as the senior team leader of the FBI’s St. Louis SWAT team, leading a team of 20 through the execution of hostage rescue scenarios and high-risk arrests.
After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he was reassigned and served as a founding member of the St. Louis Joint Terrorism Task Force.
By 2002, Harrison was working as an interrogator at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He would return to Cuba in February 2009 as the on-scene commander, serving as an adviser to senior-level military personnel and overseeing all aspects of FBI detainee operations.
“I benefited greatly from each assignment,” Harrison said of his FBI career. “I was blessed, I think, to have several different opportunities at an early point in my career.”
A certified instructor in tactical, firearms and antiterrorism operations, Harrison is also well-traveled.
In March 2005, he was reassigned to the FBI Training Division, providing firearms and tactical training to police officers around the world. He served three deployments to the Baghdad Police College and later served as a team leader and recurring instructor at the International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest, Hungary.
“We were in austere conditions at the Baghdad Police College, but they interacted very well with us,” he said. “They were very receptive of everything that we had to offer. Understandably, they had not received training from Americans in decades.”
Despite working in a field that has him constantly on the move, Harrison said, his family has been there for him every step of the way.
“My family has always been very supportive of what we’ve done, and I think we’ve benefited as a family from our moves because it brings us closer together,” he said. “They’ve benefited from the experiences of living in different places.”
Having lived in Augusta for about 3½ years, however, Harrison said he doesn’t see himself relocating anytime soon.
“Once we moved here, within a few months we decided this is where we want to remain,” said Harrison, adding that he has been bitten by the golf bug since moving to Augusta. “The folks that we have here working are among the best in the FBI.”