Faculty Member Brings 25 Years of Criminal Investigation Experience Into the Classroom Monday, January 25, 2016
Andrew F. Richards, M.A., recently became a full-time instructor for the Department of Criminal Justice and Intelligence Studies at Point Park University. Richards is owner of Fraud Investigative Service, LLC and is a retired federal agent of 25 years, where he was a national fraud subject matter expert for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. During this time, he received numerous awards for his investigations and leadership. Richards' investigative expertise includes criminal defense work, government agency contracts, civil litigation support and hidden asset location. He is listed nationally with Experts.com.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in criminal investigations?
When I was younger I worked in security for a retail chain and caught two police officers committing burglaries at our company warehouse. Knowing no one would believe me, I watched them for several weeks, taking photos of them loading their patrol cars with stolen goods. I gave the information to the Pennsylvania State Police, who then made the arrests.
That experience prompted my interest in law enforcement so I joined the Reading Bureau of Police, where I spent three years in patrol and two years on a surveillance team following known robbers and burglars - and catching them in the act. I wanted to investigate cases that were more challenging and travel while working them, so I became a federal agent for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The USPIS encouraged traveling on your own cases, whereas, other federal agencies typically didn't.
How do you incorporate your vast amount of investigation expertise into the classes you teach?
The academics at Point Park University are a part of a student's foundation for success. It is important to understand the value of a solid education. Having many years of law enforcement and private investigation experience allows me to bring aspects of academics into focus with life events. My experience with a variety of crimes at both the federal and state levels enables me to enhance the classroom experience. If I can bring relevance into the lesson, then I believe the student will benefit even more.
Tell us about a key lesson you learned during your 25 years as a federal agent.
During my 25 years as a federal agent, I had many opportunities to demonstrate my skills. But skills alone are not enough. You must treat others well; be unbiased and fair; and maintain your ethics and integrity. In doing this, others will want to work with you as well as work for you.
What do you enjoy most about teaching at Point Park?
This is the first generation in the USA to grow up in an atmosphere of terrorism, and they need all of the tools possible to make a difference. My goal is to help Point Park University students improve on what my generation did - and I enjoy being a part of that process.
What career advice do you have for our criminal justice students?
Jobs are obtained with an interview, but careers are obtained with a strategy. Education is a foundation to build upon, and internships should be taken seriously. You should demonstrate a good work ethic with personal integrity all of the time. Law enforcement is about your "individual" ability to work well with others. Criminal Justice is a team effort - that's why police cars have radios.