Alumnus Receives Assistant Attorney General Award

Ryan RibnerWebster alumnus Ryan Ribner received an Assistant Attorney General Award in Washington, D.C., for his work in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 10, 2014 – Special Agent Ryan Ribner, a 2006 graduate of Webster University’s online program, was honored by the federal Department of Justice for his work in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (HSI).

Ribner is one of 13 HSI employees who received the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service on Jan. 29. The award was given for Ribner’s contributions to Operation Island Express, an investigation of an extensive black market, identity fraud ring that stretched across the United States and Puerto Rico.
“It was a humbling experience,” said Ribner. “The investigation was extremely involved.  We started in March of 2010 and have indicted 53 individuals and it’s still ongoing.”

Ribner is based in Chicago and graduated from Webster University with an MA in Business and Organizational Security Management in 2006.

Prior to joining HSI, Ribner worked as a police officer in Chicago and began working on a master’s degree with the goal of working at a federal agency.

“Most agencies such as HSI are obviously very selective as in who they take,” said Ribner. “They want not only law enforcement experience but also advanced degrees. I chose Webster’s business and organizational security management degree because it offered classes in terrorism and counter-espionage, along with management principals and human relations.”

The hours a police officer works are not always conducive to being in a classroom at a set time every week, so Ribner took advantage of Webster University’s online degree program.

“As a police officer my shifts flip-flopped,” he said. “I was on afternoons for 30 days and then 30 days of mornings. Plus, with late arrests, court time and overtime, it made it very difficult, if not impossible to attend classes in university classroom.”

In addition to Ribner’s work as a police officer and online coursework, he took the initiative to do an internship with a federal agency.
“Webster didn’t have an internship program at the time, but I wanted to get an internship on my own and I did it on my days off as a police officer,” Ribner said. “I didn’t get class credit for it, it was just something I did on my own. But it was something that I felt was valuable for my thesis, and it was valuable for my application to HSI as well because I had my local law enforcement experience as well my internship with a federal law enforcement agency, in addition to going to college to get my masters.”

In the future, Ribner hopes to work at one of HSI’s foreign offices, known as Attaché Offices, to work with foreign governments to identify and combad transnational criminal organizations before they threaten the United States. 

DHS Awards

“Crime is transnational in nature, and you have to stay on top of global trends and the things that are going on in the media and other countries because that obviously affects the security and law enforcement,” said Ribner. “You might be investigating an organization that might impact U.S. national security but they’re seated in Russia or Africa or somewhere in Europe or Asia, so it’s important to understand those kind of trends.”

Ribner offers this advice to students who are hoping to work for a federal agency: “Continue to get your education – a place like Webster is great because it fits around your working schedule. If you apply somewhere and you don’t get in, don’t stop. If this is the career choice you want for yourself, better yourself, continue to get your education, your training and experience and continue to apply.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). ICE is the second largest investigative agency in the federal government and was created in 2003 through a merger of the investigative and interior enforcement elements of the former U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. ICE has more than 200,000 employees in more than 400 offices in the U.S. and 48 foreign countries.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) conducts transnational criminal investigations that protect the U.S. against threats to its national security and bring to justice those seeking to exploit its customs and immigration laws worldwide. HSI investigates a multitude of crimes including child pornography, sex tourism, human smuggling/trafficking, bulk cash smuggling, document/benefit fraud, transnational gangs and counterfeit products.

To learn more about the MA in Business and Organizational Security Management, or other online graduate degrees, click here