Today, US Senator Herb Kohl questioned FBI Director Robert Mueller III at a Senate Judiciary Committee Oversight hearing about the possible closure of three Wisconsin FBI Resident Agencies -- satellite offices of the Milwaukee FBI Field Division . Kohl serves as a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The FBI proposes closing the Kenosha, Wausau and La Crosse offices. Details have not been finalized, but it is expected that Kenosha agents will move to Milwaukee, La Crosse agents will move to Eau Claire, and Wausau agents will be relocated elsewhere within the state.
"The FBI has proposed closing three of its six Wisconsin satellite offices. If these closures go through, the Western District of Wisconsin will be especially hard hit, and will lose half of its FBI offices. As I told Attorney General Holder and wrote to you last month, I have strong objections to these closures," Kohl said at the hearing.
Kohl continued, "You have indicated that Wisconsin will not lose agents or resources, so this clearly is not a simple cost-savings issue and we think it's a bad idea to close these offices. As I have heard from law enforcement throughout the Western District in Wisconsin, FBI presence in these rural areas is critical to maintaining long-time partnerships that protect Wisconsinites from criminal and terrorism threats."
Kohl mentioned previous statements by Director Mueller about the importance of the FBI working alongside local law enforcement and questioned Director Mueller on how the closures would impact local law enforcement efforts.
Mueller replied that they reviewed all the FBI offices nationwide to see if they are most effective and looked at the threats to see how best to address them. He indicated that some offices were being closed to save costs associated with securing classified documents. He noted that they looked at the Western part of Wisconsin and he hopes that the coverage will remain the same even with these closures. Kohl pressed him to keep an open mind about reconsidering the closures and to "consider the possibility that we can do better." When asked by Kohl whether the decisions are final, Mueller indicated that an open "crack" remains in his consideration to close the offices and additional information and input are welcome.
U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil, the chief law enforcement officer in the Western District, strongly opposes these closures.