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  • Robert S. Mueller, III
  • Director
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) 26th Annual Training Conference and Exhibition
  • Tampa, Florida
  • July 22, 2002

Thank you, Len (Cooke) and good morning everyone. I am honored to be here today with so many great leaders, not only on the platform dais, but throughout this room.

I want to start with a word of thanks. The past year has been tough for all of us. After September 11, more has been demanded from law enforcement -- from all of us in this room -- than at any other time in our history. And the stakes have never been higher. We have a new national challenge, larger than any one agency can handle. We learned a great deal from the 19 hijackers and their attacks. We learned that terrorists can be hiding in plain sight in any of our cities. They can be looking at potential targets and landmarks in our areas. They can be planning attacks with weapons of mass destruction or committing common crimes to fund those who are. That has put all of us in a constant state of alert. It has brought with it a host of changes - new ways of doing business, new ways of relating to one another. But what it has really taught us is that each piece of information is important. Everything from the most prolific foreign source to the officer on the beat noticing something that doesn't quite look right is all important in our new mission of prevention. We are in this fight together.

I want to thank you for stepping up to the challenge. You have done an outstanding job of supporting the nationwide homeland security effort these past ten months. And as always, you have done the job with an unfettered commitment to your various departments and communities.

I wish I could say that the toughest days are behind us. But in many ways, I think the coming years are going to be equally hard. Those who want to hurt us are still out there. If we have learned anything from all the captured terrorists and recovered documents, it is that we have a long way to go. We cannot lose focus for even a moment.

And that won't be easy, because before September 11 came along, our plates were already full. For years, we have been battling together all manner of crime problems: drugs, gangs, violent crime, white collar crime, civil rights violations. We have made some progress, but unfortunately these challenges have not gone away either. In fact, we are seeing traditional crime rates inch back up. And we are seeing explosive growth in entirely new areas like cyber crime.

The way I see it, there is only one way we can respond. We have to do things differently, and we have to move quickly. We needed change before September 11. We need it more now. In the FBI, we are undergoing probably the most fundamental transformation in our history. We are changing, reorganizing, and refocusing virtually everything we do - our mission, our structure, our training and technology, our records, and our security.

I know that all of you are anxious for new ideas and better ways of doing things. That is why you are part of NOBLE, an organization of change, and that is why you are here in Tampa. This conference allows you the opportunity to share ideas and hear about new strategies from a host of experts. In some cases, your own members are those experts. People like Captain Ron Davis, your Region 4 vice president, a nationally recognized voice on racial profiling.

Together, you are cementing your place as leaders in our communities. It's no surprise that your outgoing President Len Cooke was recently asked to lead the Department of Criminal Justice Services for the state of Virginia.

There is one other thing you are doing here that I believe is critically important to your future and our future in law enforcement. And that is building partnerships. In recent years, the entire law enforcement community has recognized the need for greater cooperation. We have started training together more and more. We have begun linking our systems electronically. We have joined hands operationally in a variety of task forces and other initiatives.

The events of September 11, though, made it clear that we still have a great deal more to do when it comes to partnerships. And quite frankly, we in the FBI have come to recognize that at times we were part of the problem. Some of you have told us that we haven't always done the best job of sharing information. We know that we can't expect you to be our partners in the war on terror if we don't do the best we can at including you and giving you the information you need to do your jobs.

We are responding. We put together an advisory group of law enforcement leaders that comes together regularly to talk about issues and find solutions. We have created two high level posts in the FBI specifically devoted to building relationships. And we filled both jobs with individuals who have extensive experience in law enforcement and are respected throughout this profession - Kathleen McChesney and Louis Quijas.

Kathleen is Executive Assistant Director for Law Enforcement Services. She has broad responsibility for relationships and for all the support services that we provide to you.

Louis Quijas is the Assistant Director for a new Office of Law Enforcement Coordination. Louis brings to the FBI 30 years as a law enforcement officer, most recently as Chief of Police in High Point, North Carolina. Louis is here with me this morning, and I hope you will have a chance to meet him. His job - and it is an important one - is to be your voice: not only to listen to your thoughts and concerns and bring them back to FBI management so we can act on them, but also to be there as we develop major investigative plans and strategies so that we can factor in the unique strengths and skills of law enforcement.

The FBI is also tackling the many complex dimensions of the information-sharing issue. A few weeks ago, we appointed Bill Eubanks - the former SAC of St. Louis - to lead a National Intel Sharing Program that is working to get you more information to help you do your jobs. We are working with law enforcement to find the right system or combination of systems to pass along threats and advisories. The fact is, the national threat advisory system is one of the most frustrating communications methods I have ever encountered. We should be at least as fast as television news. We are overhauling our own technology so that we can share information with you more effectively and more quickly. Over the next couple of years, I think you will see dramatic improvements.

We are also improving our analytic capabilities so that we can give you better information - information that is meaningful and actionable. And we are working within the government to design the new Department of Homeland Security. There are some very good ideas in the mix that will eliminate some of the confusion you now face.

We are also working to build relationships directly with NOBLE. A couple of months ago, I met with your leadership. We talked about ways we could support one another. For example, your leaders offered to lend your expertise on racial profiling and other areas to help us train Special Agents and law enforcement professionals at our FBI Academy. I and NOBLE, along with our Training Assistant Director Cassandra Chandler, are working together to incorporate a class into our National Academy program.

We are also talking about ways to graduate more NOBLE members from our National Academy and National Executive Institute programs and to take advantage of NOBLE's network of professionals to help us recruit new Agents. The fact is, the FBI wants and needs more diversity in its workforce. We have made a concerted effort to reach out to the African-American community. However, we are not as successful as we need to be. We need your support beyond recruiting events and advertisements. We need the personal support of NOBLE members in increasing the diversity and skills of our workforce. The FBI is falling short of the diversity I would like to see. Your advice and assistance are welcomed.

As we move forward, I would like to ask for your support in two more critical areas.

First, as you know, the FBI's overriding priority today is preventing future terrorist attacks. We can not meet that mandate without moving more resources to prevention. In May, we announced our plans to the public and asked for the approval of Congress. We have proposed shifting 480 investigators to counterterrorism - about four percent of our total Agents. Of that number, around 400 would come from narcotics cases. The rest would come from violent crime and less substantial white collar crime.

If this plan is approved - and we expect it will be - we will need your help to make it work. We recognize that budgets are strained and that everyone is trying to do more with less. But as we all know, this is a time of great national need, and I must put more resources directly into the fight against terror. This realignment of resources may impact you.

In narcotics, for example, we will probably do fewer stand-alone investigations. We will remain on OCDETF and other task forces, but where we had ten to fifteen Agents on a task force, we may cut back to five or ten.

We will also continue working with you on violent crime. As a former homicide prosecutor, I know how important it is to protect our communities from this threat. But again, we may have fewer representatives on task forces, and we may work fewer bank robberies and similar cases.

Let me assure you, as we move forward, we will continue to support you. And where we do serve side-by-side, we are committed to building strong relationships with you. As I say both inside and outside the Bureau, I am convinced that the FBI is and will be only as good as its relationships with law enforcement at every level. You are that important to our future.

The second area where we need your help is in the area of leadership. Leadership and integrity are critical to the success of everything we do in law enforcement. We need you to continue being visible and vocal leaders in your departments and communities. We need for you to continue your efforts in helping shape the character of our communities. We need members of NOBLE to reach out and develop partnerships with your colleagues in law enforcement. As we refocus our missions, the FBI needs your leadership more than ever.

I mentioned earlier that this past year has been tough for all of us. In less than two months, the one-year anniversary of the attacks of September 11 will be upon us. And it will bring back a flood of memories for us all -- not only the shock and horror, but the feelings of gratitude and respect for the incredible heroes of that day.

Recently, we unveiled a powerful memorial built at Quantico honoring the law enforcement and public safety heroes of September 11. The memorial was a gift of the 207th session of the National Academy, the first class to graduate following the attacks. It stands eight feet tall, and it shows the twin towers rising from a base shaped like the Pentagon. Connecting the towers is an outline of the state of Pennsylvania, a tribute to the victims of Flight 93.

The towers carry the following inscription: "Dedicated to the courage, spirit, and sacrifice of those who perished in the struggle to save others and those who persevered to protect freedom, September 11, 2001."

This memorial reminds all of us at the FBI of how we are one family in law enforcement, how the loss of each and every one of our colleagues affects us all so deeply. The memorial reminds us of FBI Special Agent Lenny Hatton, who died that morning trying to save lives. And it reminds us of the 70 other brave law enforcement professionals who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. They are an inspiration to all of us, reminding us of what we are fighting for every day.

The heroic efforts of our own on September 11 reminds us of the real strength of our law enforcement community. We need that strength more than ever. We need to be one family, united in friendship and trust. We need to be leaders committed to building the close and abiding partnerships so vital to safeguarding our children and protecting our country. Together, we can assure justice and realize the dream of all law enforcement for a strong, safe, and diverse America.

Thanks and God bless.

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