Why is FBI Even Less Diverse Than 20 Years Ago? Director Doesn’t Know

With nearly 85 percent of agents being white, FBI Director James Comey calls for more diversity, but once again gives no reason — or solution — for why the bureau is becoming increasingly more white.

FBI Director James Comey. Reuters

Over time, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has become even less diverse — and its own director doesn’t know why.

During a speech on Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey called a decrease in diversity a “crisis” during a time when racial issues are at the forefront.

“We have a crisis in the FBI and it is this: Slowly but steadily over the last decade or so, the percentage of special agents in the FBI who are white has been growing,” he said, adding, “I will have failed if I don’t change this.”

The numbers show that FBI diversity has in fact been on a steady decline for nearly 20 years. According to the FBI’s website, as of March 8, 2016, its special agents are 83.41 percent white; 6.63 percent Latino; 4.37 percent Black; 4.48 percent Asian; and less than 1 percent American Indian/Alaska Native, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and multi-race.

In 2012, a year before Comey became director, special agents were 83.1 percent white; 7 percent Latino; 4.8 percent Black; 4.2 percent Asian; and less than 1 percent multi-racial, American Indian/Alaska Native and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.

The numbers were declining even before Comey stepped in. In 2008, special agents were 81.9 percent white, 7.8 percent Hispanic, 5.2 percent Black, 4.1 percent Asian, less than 1 percent American Indian and 0 percent Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and two or more races.

In 1997, Politico reported, special agents were 6.9 percent Latino and 5.6 percent Black.

In comparison, among the 2016 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity24.8 percent of all management employees are Black, Hispanic or Asian.

Diversity among college graduates has been steadily increasing, as the FBI’s recruiting efforts went in the other direction. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, from the 1996-97 school year to 2013-14, the percent of bachelor’s degrees earned by nonwhite people increased 35 percent. The latest data showed 67.7 percent of four year degree earners were white, 10.6 percent were Black, 11.2 percent were Hispanic, 7.3 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander, 2.5 were percent two or more races and less than 1 percent were American Indian/Alaska Native.

Comey was speaking at a conference called “Working Together — The Primary Prevention for Safety and Security” at Bethune-Cookman University in Florida. The event was put together by Historically Black Colleges & Universities Law Enforcement Executives and Administrators, a group dedicated to the safety of students at HBCUs and the quality of HBCUs’ law enforcement.

Comey also addressed that the problem starts with him.

“I am trapped inside this not-too-impressive, 6-foot-8-inch, skinny white guy from the New York metropolitan area existence,” he said. “That’s who I am. I can’t escape that. All that data I take in comes in through that filter.”

Comey has spoke about the need for diversity on several occasions since taking his position in September 2013, but data shows he has not actually done anything to solve the problem. In 2015 he called the FBI “overwhelmingly white and male” and said it will be a “big challenge” to change that.

“It is an imperative for all of us in law enforcement to try to reflect the communities we serve. … I have to change my numbers,” he said at the time.

But the numbers have only gotten worse — and racial tension and violence have become more visible. During the conference some parents told Comey they are now fearful for their childrens’ lives, especially after the most recent police-related deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

Adrian Wiggins, executive director of Campus Safety and Public Safety at a college in Baltimore, became choked up when confessing his concerns to the director.

“Full disclosure, I’ve been Black for all my life, and I’m raising a young Black man who is a wonderful, wonderful man, 10 years old,” Wiggins said. “I raise him right, I take him to church, teach him right from wrong. And I’m just afraid for my son.”

Wiggins said he worries his “10-year-old son will be … one of those issues going down.” and asked, “What is it that can be done by the [FBI] to help me sleep better at night? To be less afraid for my son?”

Comey said it is “vitally important” to “try very, very hard to put ourselves in the shoes of others” and called for more data about police violence, as well as open discussions about these issues.

However, Comey’s past discussions about race relations between police and communities, specifically with Black people in communities, have not been productive for the conversation. Last year when discussing racial profiling during a speech he seemed to be making excuses for the practice rather than explaining how to address the problem.

“The two young Black men on one side of the street look like so many others the officer has locked up. Two young white men on the other side of the street, even in the same clothes, do not,” he said at the time. “The officer does not make the same sinister association about the two white guys, whether that officer is white or Black.”

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29 comments


  • Not shocked.

    This is the same FBI director who just declined to charge Hillary Clinton with anything related to her lack of control of classified information.

    Seems like pretty much a political hack to me.

  • If the FBI doesn’t actively recruit for diversity I think those who currently work for the FBI hire their from their own demographic. I know a few decades ago the Air Force made a concentrated effort to hire Hispanic men as that was the demographic lagging behind in civilian personnel ranks. I think it will take that sort of effort within the FBI to change things.

  • Could the statistics be flawed. Graduating with a degree in English literature, medicine
    or chemistry would seem low on the list of qualifications for a federal agent.
    It would be interesting to look at the percentages by race graduating with degrees related to law enforcement.

    • Naw that ain’t it. I applied and other Black folk with college degrees. They go for a certain type of Black person. They go for the ones who won’t speak their mind and defend themselves. I won’t elaborate and I will carefully refrain from expounding.

    • Not to mention this is a standard practice across the board with most law enforcement agencies. From the outside looking in as a Black man, I see law enforcement agencies view of themselves as White gatekeepers the ones chosen to protect the masses because those who don’t look like them are with natural intent to cause harm and damage to people and the American society

  • A lot of factors go into this. First, this occupation is not on a lot of people’s radar like doctor, lawyer, teachers and so forth. Next, our exposure to this occupation is often on the “negative side”. For example, my exposure to the FBI was when they raided my neighbors home. Next, I applied for a federal agency and I knew I was a shoe in. Well, I was advised through the freedom of information act that a few people from the internship I held (and I didn’t interact with) didn’t give me a favorable evaluation. Being the only minority in the office and having that evaluation differ from my ACTUAL performance evaluation was troubling. It made me feel “singled out”. Lastly, recruiters may tend to gravitate, relate and advocate towards people that Are more similar to them. Unfortunately, this may include race and culture.

    • So, in other words, the FBI washes out the few recruits of color they get by allowing random people to influence the evaluation of the recruits. A lot of companies evaluate people by allowing everyone (usually above) to chime in. When this happens you are bound to get the effects of conscious and subconscious racism. That’s why you need a well-designed program for diversity.

  • it is difficult to hire minorities because this organization does not treat minorities well. Don’t bother filing an EEO complaint, because it will fall on deaf ears and you WILL be retaliated against, which in turn means your career is over.

  • It’s because the FBI doesn’t care about Political Correctness’ bigotry against whites, never had and hopefully never will care. But when people like Luke is able to force the FBI to be more “Diverse”, Rather than accepting only the Bedt of the Best, whomever, whatever color or religion or sexual nature or whatever standard you Bleeding Hearts Demand, that will truly be the End of America.
    Like MLK Jr Said, “Content if Character, Nit color of skin…”
    The Lect Doesn’t, and Never Has Truly Cared about True Equality, the Only Care about the Destruction of the USA using Carl Marx Ideals.

    • Corporate CEOs worry about revenue and profit, the FBI director is worried about solving crimes. To accomplish their goals, they must employ the best quality people. Director Comey is apparently clueless why the FBI can’t attract the best and brightest. Doesn’t give me much confidence in his organization being able to solve other problems- like crime.

      Politicians complaining about “political correctness” are just trying to bamboozle ignorant white people by telling them something outside your control is responsible for your failures.

      Throughout almost all of American history, white people benefitted from white-only jobs, schools, courts, police, religion, sports, military, banking and neighborhoods. Now that white people have more competition, the weak blame mumbo-jumbo like “political correctness” for losing ground.

      WRONG.

      When competition increases, you need to study harder, practice more, try harder and hate less.

      But you prefer to believe rich boy trump when he tells you that it’s Mexicans and Muslims who are responsible for your failure. It’s YOU, my spelling challenged friend, who is responsible for your own failures, you were born with an enormous advantage (being white) and you blew it.

      Just remember, trump only got to where he is because he had affirmative action- he inherited $200,000,000. If he were born of modest means he’d only be someone’s annoying bald neighbor in Queens, drinking cheep beer in his wife-beater shirt and yelling at passers-by.

      • Your reply to EdP, my professionalism-and-decorum-challenged friend, is telling. True colors, eh, what? A liberal diversista in full song. Hell hath no fury like a diverslty/inclusion/togetherness CEO scorned. And that god-damned Trump – he just gets some people all steamed up, doesn’t he? Wish he was right here so one of us could kick him in the shin.

        • I don’t use language like God-damn.

          It’s Deadbeat donald. He cheats contractors, investors, students, wives and probably the taxpayers (by not paying his fair share – look up Section 469 of the tax code). I can’t add veterans to that list because the Washington Post caught the draft dodging deadbeat, without the Post, it didn’t look like he would have made the donations to veterans he promised – which is consistent with his philanthropy record.

          You were Army, how do you think deadbeat would have done as a combat infantry 2LT? There’s nothing in his background that tells me he wouldn’t make a gory mess of his own men for a medal on his chest. Can you imagine him as a company commander? Brigadier? Custer with half the brains and none of the guts.

          He’s an old man with a long business background, but he has nobody but his children and third wife to speak for him at his convention. No business partners, philanthropy partners, religious leaders, not even the former Republican mayor of NY, Bloomberg (a man of character, generosity and strength – and a real self-made billionaire). (Run, Mike, Run!)

          Deadbeat has nobody but the people under his thumb to speak of his character. What do you think they’re going to say? I wonder if Melenia will pull a Jerimiah Denton? I don’t think anyone’s hankering to go back to Slovenia post deadbeat’s pre-nup.

          Why would you vote for him to control 9,000 nuclear weapons?

          • Why would you vote for him to control 9,000 nuclear weapons?

            Because the alternative is disbarred Bill, blue dress in the hallway and couldn’t-pass-the-bar-exam Hillary Clinton and the deplorably, embarrassingly partisan Justice(?) Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the slurpily-sycophantic Debby Wassernan Schultz deciding who would fill the next couple-two-t’ree Supreme Court vacancies. Our republic is mostly gone, and we are, on the big issues, not ruled by laws, but by men (and women) appointed for life. We’re, in large part, a tyranny-of-the-majority mobocracy, with the nine in long black robes making huge, extra-Constitutional decisions for us by legislating from the bench. Trump’s explanations of the kind of people he’d people the various courts with, originalists. appeal to me.

  • – only corn fed, mouth breathing, brainwashed, white people will still have anything to do with an agency that continually violates the creator given rights of all humans. Simple as that. They are they are the only kind willing to be slaves and pledge their lives to this agency.

  • chris Perrien

    Criminal Justice degrees are not highly sought by the demographic groups in question. Since a prerequisite for being FBI usually resides on that and at the higher end it is just simple law od proportions there are not that many. Also for the work involved and the locations the starting GS-7 or 9 pay is not a draw either. As regular policeman make much more in the same cities where the FBI is. Altruism for the common good is also found less.

    • Please. The FBI hires accountants, the big-4 accounting firms are all on our Top 50, they get it done. The FBI should either get its act together or allow one of the dozen other alphabet LEO agencies to do the job. ATF, CIA, DIA, NSA, etc., etc.

  • The FBI is more White now than it was 20 years ago? Some things are looking up for the bureau, then.

      • Funny. Neo nazis don’t engage in organized crime, that’s something low IQ wops do because of their n****r criminal genes.

        Go suck a black dick, greaseball, it will be a family reunion.

        • Most of you Nazis post with AOL email addresses, even if they’re fake, it tells you a lot (older, less affluent, less educated than average). Trump caused a lot of you to crawl out from under your rocks. You and another one of your kind are posting right here in NJ.

          Maybe Hillary will pick a Jewish AG. Your IP address is 98.204.153.147.

          • What a great reply that totally addressed the issue that blacks are by far more criminal than whites.

            No, wait…the other thing. It didn’t address it at all. You really think you can scare people by saying their IP address? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, when you think you can silence people by calling then “nazis”.

            But let’s keep ignoring the elephant in the room.

  • The FBI must not lower their admission standards or entrance examinations. We need the best and the brightest at all levels of government. As a taxpayer I demand this and I would hope that all sensible tax paying citizens agree.

    • It’s more difficult to find the top talent in minority groups because there’s fewer of them ( mathematically making the search more difficult). But if you don’t find top talent from every group, then you will pick less qualified white people in their place.

      The evidence shows that white people have been getting affirmative-action in this way at the FBI for many, many years.

      I get the impression from the tone of your comment that you don’t feel nonwhite people can be as qualified as white people. That may be the prevailing attitude of the leadership of the FBI -but I wouldn’t know, I’ve never met them – however, the results speak for themselves: lower quality than they could’ve been.

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