Officer of the Month January 2001

Special Agent Lou Ann Henderson

Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Anchorage (AK) Field Office

Washington, DC—The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Special Agent Lou Ann Henderson, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as its Officer of the Month for January 2001. Special Agent Henderson is currently assigned to the Bureau’s Anchorage, Alaska Field Office.
For many children, a school field trip is simply time away from the daily grind of the classroom. However, for a young girl in rural Ohio, a field trip to a local county jail would affect the course of her life and determine the career she would ultimately pursue. There was little doubt after that one visit that young Lou Ann Henderson would become a law enforcement officer. What could not be known at that time was the major impact she would one day have combating gang-related crime and the drug trade across our nation.
Armed with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati and a Masters degree in Public Administration from the University of Dayton, Lou Ann Henderson began her career as a parole officer in Florida, where she was soon appointed the U.S. Probation Officer for Miami. As with most of her colleagues, she had a high concentration of gang and drug-related cases. After two and one half years, she relocated back to Ohio where she continued her work with hardened, sometimes violent, parolees. Although she loved her job, and had won the admiration and respect of her colleagues, Lou Ann wanted to sink her teeth into investigating the crimes that had put the parolees in jail in the first place. In June 1983 she joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation and served in the Cincinnati, Ohio and New Haven, Connecticut Field Offices before being transferred to Anchorage in December 1987.
Upon her arrival in Alaska, Special Agent Henderson was immediately assigned organized crime/drug and violent crime investigations. She is the division’s coordinator for the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crimes (NCAVC) and the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP). She serves as the Anchorage Criminal Informant Coordinator and is a member of the Evidence Response Team, as well as the Squad Relief Supervisor and Field Training Officer.
Over the course of her 11 years in Anchorage, Special Agent Henderson has developed an extraordinary reputation in the law enforcement community throughout the state of Alaska. During the mid- 1990’s the city of Anchorage experienced a significant rise in gang activity, which reached its peak during the summer of 1996, when the Mayor and the Chief of Police requested Federal assistance in addressing this problem. Special Agent Henderson was assigned to work with the Anchorage Police Department’s Gang Unit to deal with the violent gang activity. Although the Gang Unit had made significant inroads in developing quality prosecutable cases against violent street gang members, it was determined that the problem was much worse than first anticipated. At that point the FBI Safe Streets Task Force (SSTF), a new multi-agency squad, was established incorporating the resources of the FBI, DEA, the Anchorage Police Department, the Alaska State Troopers, ATF, INS, the National Park Service and the US Marshals Service to fight violent gang-related crime.
Special Agent Henderson was one of two FBI agents assigned to the SSTF and due to her exceptional organizational skills, outstanding leadership abilities and investigative expertise, she became a natural leader within the Task Force. As a result, the SSTF was immediately successful in solving a significant number of gang-related homicides, burglaries and drug investigations. Special Agent Henderson’s personal efforts with the Gang Unit and the SSTF led to the arrest of 26 gang leaders, the seizure of approximately $500,000 in assets and the dismantling of three of the most violent street gangs in the Anchorage area.
Special Agent Henderson has also assisted the Anchorage Police Department with several cases unrelated to gang activity. She worked a case with the Crimes Against Children unit, which involved the abduction and sexual assault of a 12 year-old girl. She introduced the unit to the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP) in an effort to provide federal assistance in this investigation.
In August 1998 Special Agent Henderson was assigned to work with the Drug Enforcement Agency in its newly formed Major Case Drug Task Force (MCDTF), where she initiated investigations that became some of the most significant drug cases in the state of Alaska. The DEA Resident Agent-in-Charge stated that due to Agent Henderson’s exceptional efforts, his agency was able to identify and focus on the major drug individuals and organizations throughout the state.
In June 2000 a silent alarm alerted the Anchorage Police Department that a robbery was in progress at a local credit union. The suspects waited for the employees to arrive, overpowered them and forced their way into the vault. Not satisfied with the more than $250,000 they had seized from the vault, they began taking money from the cashier drawers. What the suspects did not know was that the drawers had recently been fitted with transmitting devices so that once the drawer was empty, the police were automatically called to the scene. One of the suspects fired a fully automatic machine gun at the police during the attempted escape.
FBI Special Agent Henderson was assigned the case. What her exhaustive investigation uncovered was that the two suspects had not acted alone, as was first thought. She learned that the mastermind of the bank robbery was a disgruntled former employee who had planned down to the last detail how this robbery would take place. Agent Henderson stated that she was actually impressed by the detailed eight-page “how-to” handbook he had written for his partners. It had the potential of being the perfect crime. However, one critical piece of information was missing, as the transmitting devices had been installed in the drawers after he had lost his job at the credit union. All three were convicted and will each serve more than 20 years behind bars.
Special Agent Henderson is a member of the FBI Agents Association, the Asian Organized Crime Investigators Association and the Alaska Peace Officers Association. She and her husband, himself an FBI agent, are both licensed pilots and love the outdoors. They spend their free time skiing, hunting and fishing.
Police Unity Tour
The Police Unity Tour is the official sponsor of the Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Program.