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

Kaitlyn D’Onofrio, DiversityInc, July 15, 2016

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.

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

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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.”

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