Biden Introduces Bill to Hire 1,000 More FBI Agents to Help Fight Crime
In an effort to enhance the safety of our nation's communities, U.S. Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) today introduced a bill to add 1,000 FBI agents to focus exclusively on traditional criminal cases such as drug trafficking and violent crime. This legislation will help ensure that the FBI has the resources to effectively achieve its counter-terrorism priorities without abandoning its traditional crime fighting functions.
"Terrorists pose a grave threat to our country and in the wake of 9/11, the FBI was right to shift its focus to preventing terror attacks. But the safety of our nation's citizens should be our top priority whether the threat comes from international terrorists or from the thug down the street. We have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time," continued Biden. "Overworked FBI agents have been forced to cast aside a wide array of critical cases ranging from drug probes to violent street gangs to white collar investigations. FBI field agents need back up and this bill will help answer that call."
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI currently employs 12,000 Special Agents. In the wake of 9/11, the FBI formally shifted a significant number of agents from traditional criminal investigative work to counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence matters. According to a September 2004 report by the Inspector General's office, between fiscal year 2000 and 2003, the FBI increased its agent utilization within the National Foreign Intelligence Program (NFIP) by about 1,400 agents. During the same time period, agent utilization in the Organized Crime/Drugs (OC/D), White-Collar Crime (WCC), and Violent Crime/Major Offenders (VCMO) programs combined was reduced by 1,871 agents. In addition, many agents currently work on counter-terrorism cases even though they have not been officially re-assigned. The report concluded: "This indicates that the FBI significantly shifted its agent utilization from traditional criminal investigations to matters related to terrorism."
Biden also noted that between 2001 and 2003, the FBI referrals for counterterrorism cases increased by 671 percent. During the same period the referrals for drug, white-collar, and violent crime matters all declined by 39 percent, 23 percent, and 10 percent respectively.
"It is imperative that FBI achieve its mandate of preventing terrorist attacks, but we can't spend all of our time worrying about terrorism if we turn a blind eye to traditional street crime and the very real threat it poses to our citizens. The FBI must have the resources to achieve its counter-terrorism priorities without neglecting its traditional crime fighting functions.
"In addition to investigating federal crimes, the FBI provides critical assistance to state and local law enforcement. Quite simply, the FBI has technical expertise and resources that are not available to many state and local agencies - especially smaller jurisdictions. These local agencies rely on the FBI. As the FBI continues to divert resources from criminal cases and the Congress cuts funding to support state and local law enforcement, a gap in enforcement capabilities is developing. In order to preserve public safety and national security this gap that must be filled, and the bill I am introducing today will help fill it."
The FBI's annual budget is approximately $5.5 billion per year. Senator Biden's initiative would cost approximately $160 million per year.