(WJBK) - The attacks 15 years ago on September 11 not only put terrorism on the forefront for nearly every American, but it also changed the way one agency that handles national security does business.
That agency is the FBI.
"I was in the bureau about a year and a half before 9/11 and it's been a radical transformation, honestly," says special agent Timothy Waters. He works for the bureau in downtown Detroit.
He says before the terror attacks that brought down the twin towers, the Federal Bureau of Investigations was primarily law enforcement on a national scale. Now, they focus more on gathering intelligence and working with other counter-terrorism agencies.
"If one thing has been made crystal clear to us since 9/11, it's partnerships that need to be in place to successfully fight terrorism. It's not a single agency fight by any stretch," says Waters.
Roughly 300 field agents are working for the FBI in Michigan alone. These are the unsung heroes who don't get the headlines when they stop an act of terrorism before it starts.
"If we're doing our jobs, the public is not going to hear about us," says Waters. "That's a success at the end of the day."
Over a third of those agents work on the joint terrorism task force.
"On a daily basis, we have well over 125 people working over several hundred investigations," he says.
The face of the enemy has changed in the past 15 years, but the goal of disrupting a comfortable American way of life has remained for the terrorist cells.
"One thing that is a constant, is there is a core group of people out there that trying to attack the United States, trying to wreak havoc within the United States," Waters says. "That's what we're doing; we're trying to prevent that from happening.
If there is anything 15 years has taught special agents, it's how vital tips from the public are to the FBI.