Long-time Erie FBI agent appointed to head local office
An FBI agent who has spent his entire career working on cases and building relationships in Erie now heads the agency’s local office.
Jason T. Crouse, 47, a 19-year-old FBI veteran, was recently promoted to senior resident agent to supervise the FBI offices in Erie and New Castle. Crouse has a seat in Erie which was vacated last summer by the retirement of Special Supervisory Agent Mark Beneski.
Erie’s FBI office covers seven counties in northwestern Pennsylvania.
Beneski said Crouse was a great choice for the office, noting his skills, drive and enthusiasm for the job.
“He’s definitely a hard working guy who is definitely dedicated to the Erie region,” said Beneski. “He has been here for a long time, and during that time he has built very good relationships throughout the region.”
Crouse, a native of Pennsylvania, received an undergraduate degree in criminal justice from the University of Maryland, where he joined the U.S. Army Reserves, and a law degree from Wake University Law School. Forest. He worked as a public defender in Maryland for two years before joining the FBI, fulfilling a childhood dream.
“Law enforcement has always been at the back of my mind, something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “As I progressed through college and law school, I have always viewed the FBI as the pinnacle of law enforcement, so that’s what I threw my vested. “
Crouse began his FBI career in Erie as the coordinator of the Erie Area Gang Law Enforcement Task Force, or EAGLE, a position he held for seven years. The task force, in place since the 1990s, includes representatives from various federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that address violent crime, including drug and gun crimes.
Crouse said he then moved on to violent crimes against children, which he did for about 10 years.
“While that was my main focus, based on the small number of officers we have here and the wide range of investigations we need to undertake, I have had experience in all of these violations. So I worked on counterterrorism investigations, bank robberies, white collar fraud, healthcare fraud. And not always as an investigative agent, but certainly in a supporting role here, ”a- he declared.
Crouse said that while the number one priority for the Erie FBI’s office, as well as the agency as a whole, is national security and the fight against terrorism, the major issues the FBI is focusing on in the region include an increase in violence, an increase in shootings. and the fentanyl epidemic.
“We also have the rapidly growing threat of crimes against children,” he said.
Crouse said the COVID pandemic is putting children more at home and more online, and it is putting adults in and online more.
“So the perpetrators had more access to a greater number of victims,” he said. “Victims are on their devices for longer periods of time, so these cases have increased dramatically.”
Another aspect to this is that when children are at home and have less exposure to the community, there are “fewer red flags to be seen,” Crouse said.
“The teachers don’t watch it, the coaches don’t watch it, the church members don’t watch it. All of this combined has made them very vulnerable in a very dangerous time,” he said. . “With the increase of social media platforms and technology, all of this is leading to a significant threat in our region and across the country.”
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Crouse said his main goal as head of the FBI’s Erie bureau is to strengthen his partnerships with other law enforcement agencies by improving the relationships that exist and building them where they do not exist. not.
“I believe that everyone is more effective when we work together on projects,” he said. “There are things that national and local law enforcement do better than us, and I think there is some expertise that we can bring to investigations that maybe national law enforcement agencies and local communities do not or do not have easy access to them, so I am always looking for ways to apply what we can bring to improve investigations and form these partnerships. ”
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Crouse said he enjoyed working in Erie’s FBI office for a variety of reasons. One concerns the quality of the work, as agents in a smaller office like Erie work on every FBI investigative program.
“So the diversity of the job is fantastic. It gives us all the opportunities to explore things,” he said.
Crouse, who is married and has six children, said he also appreciates the quality of life in the Erie region.
“It’s a great place to work. The community is very supportive, national and local law enforcement is very supportive. So all of these things combined make this a much sought after office, in my opinion,” he said. -he declares.