In an ironic coincidence as we all reflected on the day that everything changed in September of 2011, Renaissance man William Jones, J.D., criminal intelligence investigative analyst for both Hennepin and Sherburne counties, visited the Minnesota School of Business-Blaine campus to share his humor, passion and impressive resume with students from the business degree and criminal justice programs.
Jones built his discussion around critical thinking and application inquiries from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States. What if someone had been paying more keen attention? What if levels of administration across agencies would have communicated more willingly and assertively?
“Moussaoui trained in Bloomington; he only trained to take off. Someone eventually became suspicious,” Jones explained.
The global investigation eventually led to the identification of one of the terrorists involved in the plot, but the price was too high; shared intelligence came too late. In retrospect, what could have been, had more than one person noted and communicated the oddity of a novice pilot seeking to learn how to take off in a plane, but having no interest in learning how to land it?
It’s not often students get a test and a guest speaker, simultaneously. Jones relayed investigative detail from the mundane to the murderous; he spoke of the shared processes of ethics, sourcing information and the integrity of investigation. These tenets apply to white collar crimes and to high level FBI investigations, as with Moussaoui and his connections to Al Qaeda. Our business, military and criminal justice students were engrossed.
William went on to stress that we never stop at “good enough.” He challenged students to think critically—beyond singular dimension and the self to see past first impressions and appearances. He shared a series of optical illusions to encourage critical thinking and collaboration, as that is what is needed in investigations and shared-intelligence.
He opined that one must train the brain to limit thoughts to the organic and not of suggestion. Only then can the true picture be seen as a whole. Jones stressed that we never stop learning, and that we are what we read. What we have read influences what we retain, remember, and apply in our personal and professional endeavors.
MSB-Blaine students were surprised to see the career path Jones has taken with a bachelor’s degree in speech and a J.D. in law. These degrees landed him employment for the DNR, for the Army as an investigator in Southeast Asia, and in conjunction with the FBI. His skills as an investigator and interviewer come from having the ability to use both verbal and non-verbal skills to gain cooperation and communication within law enforcement investigations, and to allow for an understanding of the progression of human behavior.
It seems that Jones is just getting started—proof-positive that an education, work ethic and pure drive can take someone anyplace he or she wishes to go.