Special Agent Inspires Guardians Club with Her Story

Monmouth University’s Guardians Club welcomed Alternate Commander Special Agent Alani Bankhead to a virtual club discussion Wednesday, Feb 2.

The Guardians Club aims to expose students to a variety of career paths in the fields of criminal justice and homeland security, all while highlighting the necessary job qualifications. During her presentation, Agent Bankhead spoke about her personal experiences as she entered her career, as well as the opportunities in the field.

Agent Bankhead currently works at Hawaii’s Department of the Attorney General on the Hawaii Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing over 4,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. These agencies conduct investigations and prosecutions against crimes related to child abuse, exploitation, sexual assault, sex trafficking, and sextortion. Bankhead explained her motivations for entering the field, “I don’t like it when bigger forces take advantage of weaker beings.”

Bankhead’s presentation emphasized the misconceptions associated with being a woman in a male-dominated field. “There’s a lot of mental thoughts and perceptions you guys have going into your career that may or may not be serving you,” Bankhead started. She opened up about her struggle with overcoming imposter syndrome, the insecure feeling that one does not belong in their field. “My trigger finger still works the same as anybody else’s, and I’m a really good shot,” she quipped.

In addition to being a supervisory special agent commander, Bankhead is also a professional coach and consultant. Her program, Mighty Sparrow Coaching, enables her to empower women, drawing on her Christian background. “I felt completely out of my element when I began my career, and I work with women, so they don’t have to doubt themselves the way that I did,” said Bankhead.

Guardians Club President Angelina Esposito was initially drawn to Bankhead because she held such an important role as a female in criminal work. “I found Agent Bankhead on LinkedIn, and after looking over her profile she just seemed really awesome,” explained Esposito. Esposito asked Bankhead to speak as a keynote speaker for the Guardians club not only because of her wide range of experience, but her specialization in the field of child abuse and exploitation. Esposito said, “I know a lot of people in the

Guardians Club are interested in doing some type of law enforcement job that involves children.”
Bankhead also introduced her dog and co-guest, Lulu, during the presentation. “She is not only a detection dog, but she’s a comfort dog for kids,” said Bankhead. Lulu accompanies Bankhead during her workday to comfort victims during search warrants, interviews, and court trials. Bankhead added, “She does a lot of work to make the kids smile and laugh, distracting them from what’s going on around them.”

“[Bankhead] is definitely a role model, and in law enforcement women always have to go above and beyond to prove their place,” Esposito added. Upon expressing her gratitude for Bankhead’s presentation, Esposito noted that “Bankhead was dominating the field and doing it without blinking an eye.”