Marvin Richardson is the Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobbaco, Firearms and Explosives.
On Friday, he spoke with students who are in the My Brother’s Keeper program at Western Hills High School in Fort Worth.
His office may be in Washington, DC, but Fort Worth is home.
“I’m from here in Lake Como, in the western part of Fort Worth, Texas,” ATF Acting Director Marvin Richardson said.
Among other degrees, Richardson holds a business administration degree from the University of North Texas. UNT is also where his career in law enforcement began. A friend asked him to join the campus police.
“When he told me he was making $ 30,000 a year at the time, which was a lot of money, I said I could probably do it for a minute and from then on , I got hooked, ”Richardson said. “That was 37 years ago.”
32 of those years were with the ATF. Richardson started out as a special agent in the Dallas Field Division.
“It was called the Achilles unit,” said Richardson. “It was 12 square blocks in South Dallas. It was 1989. At the height of the Crack War.”
Now Richardson is on top of the agency waging the war on crimes that bring the ATF up.
These often include gun crimes.
Richardson weighed in on Texas’ new unlicensed porterage law.
“States have the independence to pass the laws of their choice,” said Richardson. “When you look again at the seconded amendment, it’s everyone’s right. So we’re not here to say oh my god you can’t do this with a gun. What you cannot do is you cannot commit a criminal act with a gun.
Fighting crime is part of the job. But Richardson says he was drawn to the public service aspect, which is the most rewarding.
“When you can walk through a community where you have worked and helped end this violence, and see children playing in the streets, seeing old people sitting on their porch again, that is worth more to me than any paycheck. that you could give me, “said Richardson.
The journey through the ranks of the ATF has not been easy for Richardson.
“When you talk about being a black man wearing a blue uniform, so to speak, wearing a badge, it builds that dynamic inside of you,” Richardson said.
Thus, he uses his life experience and current calls for social justice since the death of George Floyd to train officers.
“I speak to our officers about the need to be socially aware in our policing efforts,” said Richardson.
Set an example for the officers under his command and with the message he tries to share with the students of his hometown.
“You can let these obstacles deter you or you cannot let them challenge you and make you find ways to overcome, work around or cross them.”
Richardson spent five years as an officer in the University of North Texas Police Department, reaching the rank of lieutenant before leaving for the ATF.
Richardson is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
He is married and the father of six children. His wife is also from Fort Worth.