CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea – After 50 years of being a military-led law enforcement agency, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division began increasing the ratio of civilian criminal investigators across the Army in late 2021. The wave of reformation recently reached the Pacific shore as the U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys CID Far East Field Office (FEFO) welcomed its first civilian Special Agent in Charge in September 2022: Michael DeFamio was appointed as the first civilian SAC of CID FEFO.
DeFamio joined CID from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service where he recently served as the SAC of the NCIS Central Field Office in Great Lakes, Ill. He brings 20 years of civilian federal criminal investigation experience and was hand selected by Gregory Ford, who was also the first civilian director of the U.S. Army CID in Quantico, Va.
“Having a civilian director who is an experienced federal agent brings CID into better alignment with our partner federal agencies,” said DeFamio. “This allows for a more forward-leaning organization that can better integrate with outside law enforcement for more impactful operations.”
Located at Camp Humphreys, DeFamio is responsible for overseeing the CID FEFO’s mission and strategizing the agency’s operation to defeat criminal threats in far east regions, which geographically spans from the Philippines to India.
To support commanders and protect Army's resources in peacetime, war, and contingency operations, CID conducts criminal investigations and offers intelligence while striving to proactively prevent crimes that have an influence on the operational preparedness of the Army.
The CID also conducts global investigations into sensitive and classified Army programs, significant construction projects, Soldier safety, procurement fraud involving Army equipment and programs, intrusions into US Army computers, and terrorist operations.
Under DeFamio’s leadership, a reformed investigative structure and procedure has been built. The new civilianized CID strives to embody expertise in criminal investigations, take proactive approaches, and nurture partnerships with other law enforcement agencies to identify and defeat criminal threats to the U.S. Army in South Korea and the far east region.
One of the CID FEFO’s initiatives is developing career tracks in high priority investigative areas. This means the special agents, whether military or civilians, receive the most up-to-date training, and work investigations to develop their own specialty - cultivating skills they can utilize throughout their careers. This incentivizes the investigators to be more proactive in honing their expertise.
“We do not wait for crimes to be reported to us, but we go out and actively detect them,” said Ruben Santiago, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, who is also a civilian agent with 26 years of police and criminal investigation experience. “Staying ahead of the threat not only keeps our forces protected but also trains us to be better criminal investigators.”
The Versatile Investigative Proactive Enforcement & Response team is one of the examples demonstrating the proactive approach. The team goes undercover into barracks buildings to survey any major crimes. Consisted of younger military special agents, they tactfully dissolve themselves into junior-enlisted barracks parties and into bars around USAG Humphreys. It allows them to use their training to sense crimes that are undetectable from outside.
The zealous search to prevent crimes takes place online as well. Special agents perform online monitoring on dating apps and websites to look for suspicious actions. In this, special agents expand their investigative skills and hone their detective instinct to sense abnormal situations.
“My vision is to build a well-trained team of law enforcement professionals who seek out and defeat criminal threats before they can degrade the Army’s operational readiness,” said DeFamio. “We will accomplish this by being more accessible to the people we support so we are present where needed.”
This vision will come to fruition this year by sending agents to provide criminal threat mitigation in support of exercises in Australia, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
The new leadership has also been making efforts to be more connected and involved with the community. Educating command teams on their roles and going on American Forces Network radio shows to talk about lesson learned from high profile cases are few examples. Regularly conducting working-group meetings with Korean National Police and local law enforcement agencies has also contributed to building strong networks and partnerships.
“Changes are challenging but rewarding,” said DeFamio. “The special agent corps we have in the Far East Field Office is the best group I have ever worked with. Their motivation to work through the changes has not only made my job easier, but the successes are already apparent as we shift to a more proactive form of law enforcement.”