When the United Nations decided to prosecute war crimes in Kosovo, Brian P. Boetig was part of the evidence team that exhumed the bodies of hundreds of murder victims.
A few years later, when 9/11 happened, he was one of the first investigators to search the abandoned car left by the hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.
And the year after that, Boetig found himself knee-deep in another headline-grabbing crime, this one involving the Washington, D.C.-area snipers who murdered 10 people.
“I’ve worked the whole gamut,” said the new special agent in charge of the FBI office in Buffalo.
For Boetig, a fourth-generation law enforcement officer, Buffalo is the next logical step in a career that has taken the former Alabama street cop to some of the most notorious crime scenes around the world. And, most recently, into the anonymous, shadowy world of cybercrime.
A 15-year veteran of the FBI, Boetig has been serving as director of the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, a multi-agency center that has the responsibility of investigating cyberthreats.
His work there coincided with the FBI’s ever-increasing emphasis on cyberthreats, especially those targeting national security and the economy.
Boetig knows that in the cyberworld – a world without borders – it has become increasingly difficult to keep the country safe.
He also knows that the next generation of terrorists will be plying their trade most often through computers, not bombs and suicide vests.
“Often, the intrusions happen behind closed doors,” he said of the anonymous nature of the attacks against government and business. “And it’s often death by a thousand cuts – intrusion after intrusion after intrusion.”
The institutions at risk range from the nation’s financial and telecommunications systems to water supplies and power grids.
As director of the cybercrime task force, Boetig embraced the notion that the threat was too big for the federal government to handle alone so he recruited state, private and international partners.
“We realized we couldn’t work these cases alone,” he said. “An intrusion in Buffalo is going to have an impact in Texas.”
Boetig’s passion for law enforcement is rooted in his family. His grandfather and great-grandfathers were New York City police officers, and his father was a Coast Guard pilot.
It’s a legacy of public safety, a mission of sorts, that he often views through the eyes of a father and husband eager to protect his family.
“I want my wife to be able to drive anywhere,” he said. “I want my daughter to be able to travel and know she’ll be safe. If I focus on protecting my wife and kids, the effects on everyone else in the community will be the same.”
Boetig is new to Buffalo but not upstate. He was born in Plattsburgh but moved away when he was a young boy.
His first impressions of his new home?
Patriotic, he answered, noting that there are far more homes with American flags out front than in other cities where he has lived.
He also insists that the weather is, believe it or not, superb.
“It’s the best weather I’ve ever seen,” he said with a smile. “Of course, I’ve only seen it for four weeks.”