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Philadelphia’s new federal law enforcement leadership is all female

KYW Radio Philadelphia 8/15/2022 Pat Loeb
From left: Jacqueline Romero, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Jacqueline Maguire, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia office. © Provided by KYW Radio Philadelphia From left: Jacqueline Romero, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Jacqueline Maguire, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia office.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — When Jacqueline Romero was sworn in as U.S. attorney for Philadelphia in June, it became official: Federal law enforcement leadership in the city is all female.

Neither Romero nor Jacqueline Maguire, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia office, seems to find it surprising that two women have landed at the top of the city’s federal law enforcement food chain. Not only are many top federal jobs here held by women, they noted, but the city’s chief of law enforcement, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, is a woman.

Maquire said their relationships with each other are more significant than their gender.

“We are experienced leaders,” she said. “There’s a reason we’re in these positions. I think we have strong teams that are out on the street doing the work together, and that’s what’s going to make a difference.”

Both say being female has never been a handicap in their careers, emphasizing they don’t think it will make a difference in how they do their jobs.

“I think we would all say it doesn’t make a difference that we’re women,” Romero added. “Whether we’re female or male, there’s the mission.”

A calling for the job

Maguire, a Villanova alum and a 20-year veteran of the FBI, was appointed special agent in charge last fall. She became interested in the FBI while working at the medical examiner’s office near her home on Long Island. Her office worked with FBI agents to investigate the cause of TWA Flight 800, which crashed nearby in July 1996.

“I realized I liked the pieces of the puzzle of criminal justice, putting information together, and it was somewhere I could possibly use my science background” — her undergrad degree, she said. “I went back to school for criminal justice and applied to the FBI.”

Maguire was a member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in the New York field office on 9/11 and was assigned to lead the investigation into American Flight 77, the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.

Counterterrorism remains the FBI’s No. 1 priority. It’s also at the top of Maguire’s list of concerns for the Philadelphia office, though violent crime is the local priority.

Romero said violent crime will also remain a major focus for her office. This week, she will be naming an executive U.S. attorney — a new anti-violence position.

“This is someone who will be going out in the community and identifying areas where we can be more active,” she explained. “If a community is riddled with narcotics or firearms issues, we’ll find opportunities to be out there to do anti-violence outreach and education so people understand the consequences of committing those kinds of crimes in those neighborhoods — a very strong approach to prevention.”

She expects to make changes on the criminal side of the office but is moving slowly, still holding meetings and gathering information.

“There are many agencies that are looking to me for leadership and I have to be that leader,” said Romero, a Tenafly, New Jersey native who earned a law degree from Rutgers. She has practiced in a number of areas, most recently leading the Civil Rights Division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

She knew she wanted to be an attorney from a young age. Working in her family’s diner, she was intrigued by the lawyers who would come in and talk shop.

“I felt like lawyers really had the opportunity to walk into a courtroom and make a difference,” she said. “Make a difference in a single person’s life but also make a difference for greater society, because a single case could overturn a policy that affected hundreds of thousands of people. By being a lawyer, you were really standing up for something bigger than yourself, sometimes bigger than one client. You could really effectuate change in some tremendous ways and stand up for people.”

Romero admitted being the first woman in charge of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania does throw some people for a loop.

“I’ve walked into a room where people don’t know me and I’m introduced as the U.S. attorney, there’s a bit of surprise on people’s faces,” she said.

Her family, of course, is proud. She’s the youngest of five children, all of whom worked at the diner.

“This is like nothing our family has ever seen,” she added.

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