By Brittany Hutson
In a single lifetime, Donald W. Tucker has seen and experienced things that are straight out of a social studies textbook. The Chicago native entered the world of law enforcement when the United States was in the midst of some of its most tensed and violent years–the civil right era. As an undercover agent for the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (now known as the DEA), and a U.S. Secret Service Agent, Tucker has experienced everything including the death of Emmett Till, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy and the Vietnam War. He’s even protected every U.S. president from Lyndon Johnson to George H.W. Bush, as well as Jesse Jackson and Shirley Chisholm.
In his new book, “The Two-Edged Sword,” Tucker recounts his rise through the ranks to become one of this country’s prime federal law enforcement administrators and reformers. We spoke to Tucker about his career, fighting discrimination and what went through his mind when he saw Barack Obama become president.
How did you come up with the title of your book, “The Two-Edged Sword?”
In the book I describe a time when I had to defend a black female agent that the secret service was trying to fire over two incidents. At the time, she had only been on the job for a few months and had been recruited from Jackson, MS. She was assigned to the Houston field office. She didn’t have anyone to help her find a place to live, so she ended up renting an apartment in a pretty tough neighborhood. One night, she heard a gunshot. The Houston police came to her apartment and explained that there was a murder in the building. They asked if she heard anything and the agent said she had. The police asked why she hadn’t called the police. She identified herself and told the police she wasn’t sure the noise was a gunshot. The police reported her, saying that she was unprofessional and didn’t really look like a secret service agent.
There was another incident when the Houston police thought the agent was unprofessional during a meeting with a female clerk. In this case, the agent was going to the police department with two white agents. The white clerk asked the two white agents to show their credentials and they were allowed to pass. When the black agent showed her credentials, the clerk asked for two additional pieces of identification. The agent was obviously upset at being treated differently. She threw down the additional identification and the clerk reported her for being unprofessional.