'No regrets' for FBI's top agent in Honolulu
By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Peter Boylan
A lot of people retire in search of lazy days on the golf course, but after more than 25 years in law enforcement, Honolulu FBI Special Agent in Charge Charles L. Goodwin will find his next golf outing feeling more like work than retirement.
He may also find time to squeeze in a round or two.
Goodwin, 56, is stepping down Friday as special agent in charge of the FBI's Honolulu division after 3 1/2 years spent supervising the division's 165 employees. Since July 2003, Goodwin has coordinated the activities of agents based in Honolulu, Maui, the Big Island, Guam and Saipan while overseeing an area that covers the entire Pacific Rim, extending to Mongolia, westward to Afghanistan and southward to Antarctica.
Both violent and property crimes in Honolulu and the state fell in each year that Goodwin worked with local law enforcement.
He is wrapping up a career in law enforcement that has had him chasing criminals on dirt roads outside of Atlanta and mobsters in Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Goodwin has caught kidnappers, infiltrated organized crime outfits and shot and killed a hostage taker in a sheriff's office.
Despite being a decade or more removed from some of his cases, Goodwin can still name many of those he's helped take down.
Murderer Billy "Sunday" Burke. Organized crime boss Eddie "The Wizard of Odds" Coco. Murderer Billy Wayne Davis. Each name comes with a story and a memory better left in the past.
A seven-year veteran of the Coast Guard and Army Reserve, Goodwin will now devote his energies to providing security consulting as a private contractor serving, among others, the Professional Golf Association. He will help with on-site event security at PGA events in locations such as Pebble Beach, Calif., and Beijing.
"This was an opportunity I couldn't pass up," Goodwin said during an interview in his office last month. "I never joined the FBI to be a boss; left the sheriff's because I was tired of being a boss. If I could stay (FBI mandates retirement at 57) until I was 60, I wouldn't be leaving now. However, it's my time and I have no regrets."
His FBI career, which began in Atlanta in 1973, took him to Pittsburgh; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Cincinnati.
Goodwin oversaw bureaus, handled massive manhunts, kidnapping recoveries, worked on expansive organized crime cases, and helped with recruiting.
He came to Hawai'i two years after 9/11 and helped coordinate the reshuffled responsibilities of the division, which included a commitment to counterterrorism, counterintelligence and cyber crimes. Goodwin lauded the county police departments for providing assistance and intelligence and for being the "tip of the spear" when it came to identifying criminal issues in the state.
"This is a big, small place, and you need to treat people like you want to be treated yourself. If you treat people the right way, you are going to make progress," he said. "I consider each of the county police chiefs to be personal friends of mine. When I came out here I immediately immersed myself in talking with the chiefs, and the military and other law enforcement agencies and worked on building relationships. You need to know all these people before there is a problem."
A GOLFER AND RUNNER
The Kansas City, Mo., native got his first set of golf clubs when he was 8 and grew up next door to PGA legend Tom Watson.
Goodwin went back and forth with his game during his 20-plus-year tour with the FBI, sometimes playing a lot, sometimes not at all.
"Tom was always like, 'Let's go play golf,' and I'd always say, 'Nah, let's go swimming.' He went to play golf and I went swimming and the rest is history," Goodwin said.
A 10-handicap golfer who has a weekly round scheduled at the Klipper course at Marine Corps Base Hawai'i at Kane'ohe Bay, Goodwin says it shouldn't be too hard to find something to do.
In addition to golf, Goodwin, who likes to run around Ala Moana Beach Park at lunch, will run in this year's Honolulu Marathon.
IN IT FOR THE EXCITEMENT
Shortly after graduating from Penn State in 1972, Goodwin found himself working for the Douglas County Sheriff's Department outside Atlanta after a short stint in law enforcement in western Pennsylvania.
Goodwin, who had wanted to join the FBI since he was a kid, said he got into law enforcement "for the excitement."
"There was nothing going on in western Pennsylvania," said Goodwin. "Catching a drunk was a big thing back then, but it was a good experience."
At 22, Goodwin moved to Georgia to take a job with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Shortly before his first day on the job, he found himself on a house boat in Lake Altoona with Douglas County Sheriff Earl D. Lee and some friends. The group was enjoying the waning days of summer and discussing Goodwin's future.
Goodwin was to be married in the fall and was lamenting the fact that he would be stationed in rural southern Georgia with his new wife.
By the time they docked at the end of the day, Goodwin had a job as a Douglas County deputy sheriff and was told to start work two days later.
Reach Peter Boylan at email@example.com.