For International Women’s Day 2020, ACAMS Today chatted with Stacey Ivie, detective for the Alexandria Police Department who holds a Special Deputation with the U.S. Marshals Service, to discuss her career in law enforcement. Ivie is currently assigned as a task force officer (TFO) to the Washington Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Northern Virginia Financial Initiative (NVFI)—a premier suspicious activity report (SAR) review team. The initiative specializes in money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) related investigations. She has been with the initiative for over eight years and has over 18 years of overall law enforcement experience. Ivie’s experiences at the NVFI have given her a unique perspective on the working relationship between law enforcement and Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money laundering departments at financial institutions (FIs). In addition, she serves on the ACAMS Today editorial committee and has authored over 11 articles for ACAMS Today. Ivie also serves as a criminal justice consultant for the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project (NIWAP). There, she develops and conducts national training programs and supports those in the field and in government who want to improve legal options and practices for dealing with immigrant victims of enumerated criminal activity. She is a recipient of numerous awards including a U.S. Attorney Public Service Award from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia Richmond Division. Ivie holds a master’s in education from American Intercontinental University.
ACAMS Today: This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual. What more can the anti-financial crime community do to provide equal opportunities for women?
Stacey Ivie: If there is any truth to the aphorism “it is not what you know, but who you know,” then the industry should get to know the people who will comprise their future workforce and what they want. Employee retention efforts that promote opportunity and advancement via unconventional methods (i.e., flexible schedules, off-site access, externships) coupled with a meritocracy mindset that awards quality over quantity are possible solutions. In the interim, enacting annual planning sessions that promote and encourage the employees’ individualized career aspirations can contribute to equal opportunity.
AT: As a woman with 18 years of experience in law enforcement, what advice do you have for women looking to enter the field?
SI: Your reputation precedes you. Your peers will likely “know you” before they ever meet you, therefore your actions and choices will dictate their perception. I believe that if you don’t sweat the small stuff, how can anyone believe your big assertions? A demonstration of a strong work ethic and a punctilious nature are key character traits that will have a lasting impact amongst your colleagues.
AT: You have sat on multiple panels on SARs at ACAMS conferences and you are a TFO for the Washington Baltimore HIDTA NVFI. What is the most important tip you have on writing and filing SARs?
SI: If there can only be one suggestion, I would recommend making sure that SAR writings and filings coincide with outreach to law enforcement. Filings must include follow-through. If it does, the law enforcement community is more likely to intervene.
AT: What inspired you to be a criminal justice consultant for NIWAP?
SI: Prior to my interest in financial crimes, I chose to work in the Domestic Violence Unit. There, I realized there was a class of silent victims among immigrant populations who either could not or would not report crimes, resulting in unsuccessful prosecutions and criminals being released to commit more crimes. NIWAP introduced effective law enforcement tools to help improve community relations, increase the reporting of criminal activity and enhance the prosecution of violent perpetrators. Seeing is believing. I saw the benefits then and still see their valuable application in financial crimes now. Contributing to the NIWAP trainings allows me to provide another tool to law enforcement’s belt. Who does not need that?
AT: As a regular ACAMS Today contributor, where do you find your inspiration?
SI: I typically write out of frustration. Articles that contain hypothetical scenarios are often the true bane of my existence. In law enforcement, there are the concepts of the “letter of the law” and the “spirit of the law.” I find there are many instances where FIs only do what is required (letter of the law) rather than what was intended (spirit of the law). I contribute articles in the hopes that I can promote the intent of the BSA.
AT: As a member of the ACAMS Today editorial committee, what are some things you have learned about anti-financial crime from the other members that are in different fields?
SI: Serving on the committee affords me the opportunity to learn firsthand about the current trends being experienced all over the industry. The contributors present relevant case scenarios, legal ramifications, practical solutions and more with regard to their respective fields. One such memorable contribution was learning about new illicit advertising sites from an FI representative. I want to give a personal thanks to those in the different fields for providing much of my “on-the-job” education.
AT: Could you tell us about anti-financial crime collaborations in which you have participated?
SI: I recently participated in a domestic, large-scale cocaine trafficking investigation that highlighted the collaborative nature of a complex investigation. The combined information from FIs, multiple law enforcement agencies, social media sites, technology companies, cellular phone companies, multiple departments of motor vehicles, state-specific employment commissions and more were all necessary components of the investigation. No matter the size or source of the contribution, all of the input was critical to the successful prosecution. It was an amazing opportunity to work with both the public and private sectors.
AT: When you are not fighting crime, how do you spend your free time?
SI: When I am not fighting crime (albeit rare), I spend time with my reasons for why I do what I do. My family, especially our 8-year-old daughter, is the utmost priority. Whether it be volunteering at the school during recess or chauffeuring her to the next lesson, my time is not my own and I would not have it any other way. When you love what you do (personally and professionally), it is not a job. It is my privilege.