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Letter to Community Partners

Letter to Community Partners

March 28, 2012

Dear Community Partners,

I wanted to share some recent reporting about the FBI’s outreach program and how that impacts our relationships with the communities here in Oregon. Two issues in particular have received attention as of late: 1) how the FBI develops and utilizes training related to communities of varying ethnic, racial, or religious backgrounds; and 2) how the FBI builds relationships within those communities.

As many of you know, the FBI recently undertook a massive review of the counterterrorism training materials it uses to ensure those materials were factual and consistent with our highest professional standards. A team of inspectors—including professors and other subject matter experts from outside the FBI—reviewed a total of 160,000 pages of material.

The review found only a small percentage (less than 1 percent) of the material to be inaccurate or otherwise inappropriate. Those particular materials were removed and destroyed. The FBI is now moving forward to standardize training in line with our core values. The community has a right to expect FBI employees to work at the highest ethical and moral levels, and we are working to build a strong foundation that holds us to those expectations.

Also, you may have seen reporting this week that implies that the FBI has used its community outreach program as a tool for intelligence collection and investigation. The FBI disagrees with this assessment. The FBI has gone to great lengths in recent years to formalize its community outreach program and emphasize a greater distinction between outreach and operational activities.

There are times when investigators, operating within the scope of an authorized law enforcement activity (whether investigative or liaison), report their community contacts. In fact, these contact reports are actually an indicator of a robust program that allows for management and oversight of the investigators’ actions to ensure compliance with the U.S. constitutional protections that each of us enjoys.

However, it is very important to note that these lawful actions by investigators are wholly separate and apart from the work that this office does each and every day through our community outreach program. Our community outreach program provides information to the public in support of crime and terrorism prevention efforts, opens new lines of communication, and helps make the FBI more responsive to community concerns.

The people who make up the FBI in Oregon are committed to serving you in the best, most professional way possible. In closing, I want to thank you for your continuing commitment in helping us make this community that we all share a safe place to live, work, and worship freely.

Sincerely,

Greg Fowler
Special Agent in Charge
FBI Portland Division