Review of FBI (CBS) – Compromised, S1 E9 

Recap:  After a key witness and a U.S. marshal are ambushed and killed, Maggie and OA must track down a man who leaked the information that led to their murders.

Review:  I have a confession. My knowledge regarding the Witness Protection Program, also known as WITSEC (Witness Security), comes from the same TV shows and movies everyone else has seen. FBI discussions regarding WITSEC are on a “need to know” level, and I guess I never needed to know. So, when it comes to reviewing the accuracy of the portrayal of the witness protection procedures in this week’s FBI episode, I’m going to have to pass.

For educational purposes, I made a few reality check notes on other scenes:

The FBI would be responsible for investigating the murders of a federal witness and law enforcement officer. However, the crime scene from a shootout with multiple fatalities would be coordinated with the local police and first responders. I was pleased to at least see the presence of marked vehicles from the Yonkers Police Department at the crime scene.

In real life, agents attempting to arrest a gang member suspected of gunning down several people, including innocent bystanders, would never approach him “to talk” while in the presence of other members. If this type of bold daytime approach were necessary, then this would be an appropriate time for Maggie and OA to call for SWAT. Maggie confronting, by herself, an armed suspect and chasing him through buildings and alleyways goes against all logical law enforcement tactics and arrest procedures.

A magistrate signs off on arrest and search warrants based on probable cause presented in an affidavit. A statement from one bad guy about another bad guy is not adequate probable cause. Plus, statements obtained from a subject in custody based on promises made to him could be deemed inadmissible. Note, where a prisoner will serve his time is up to the Bureau of Prison, not the FBI.

OA removed a GPS tracking device from a car with his bare hands, reducing the possibility of locating the fingerprints of the person who installed it.

There were the usual issues, the computer search with instantaneous results regarding the most intimate details about a subject’s life, past and present; the SAC actively involved in the investigation; and, of course, my primary pet peeve, Maggie and OA tagging along with SWAT. I have a suggestion. Why not have them become SWAT operators? SWAT is a collateral duty for the FBI agents in the field, meaning team members maintain a full investigative caseload on their respective squads and are on standby for when SWAT team is deployed. Maggie and OA should try out and train with SWAT,  especially if Maggie plans to chase bad guys all by herself. Plus, they would be issued all of that cool SWAT gear.


(Disclaimer: If you are watching FBI simply to be entertained, don’t read this review. I’m here to educate and provide a reality check for those who want to learn about the real FBI. My reality checks should not be confused with criticism. I want to like this show and believe that it’s a powerful promo for the real FBI. I’m excited that a new generation is watching and perhaps deciding they want to be FBI agents when they grow up. Attempting to create an accurate portrayal of an FBI investigation is an impossible task if the investigation must be solved within less than an hour. Corners must be cut, and creative license must be used to move matters along quickly. I get it. I really do. However, to counteract the “CSI Effect” this sometimes creates, I’m going to, respectfully, point out a few issues.)

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Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 250 episodes available for free on all popular podcast apps.


  1. ChristopherFebruary 11, 2019

    Stay on them, Jerri! I have the same reactions in all of these shows where the case agents/detectives act like SWAT members. I sometimes have to bite my tongue to keep from ruining episodes of such shows for my wife…

    I’m particularly grateful for your explanation of why just rolling up to the gang member for a daytime chat and chasing him down are also just plain bad tactics. Future police officers or FBI agents could be watching this stuff and absorbing these bad tactics.

    Also, thanks for pointing out that stuff about promises/probable cause and interviews. Again, besides misleading the public, fans of the FBI who might want to become Special Agents could be watching and absorbing this stuff. Their training could be made more difficult by absorbing this stuff. I guess it’s up to them to do their research or keep an open mind about everything they watch, but it seems like at some point it would just sink in and stick if such a person doesn’t already have better training.

    1. Jerri WilliamsFebruary 11, 2019

      Thanks, Christopher! I understand the need to insert drama, but I’m providing true facts especially for those who, as you noted, are thinking of joining law enforcement.


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