FBI’s Norfolk Division Committed to Protect Hampton Roads
A version of the following op-ed from the FBI appeared in the The Virginian-Pilot on February 14, 2021.
The FBI’s Norfolk Division has been serving Hampton Roads for nearly 80 years, working closely with our partners to confront a broad range of threats and keep our community safe. The men and women of Norfolk have captured infamous spies, faced down mobsters, street gangs and outlaw bikers, and exposed corrupt bankers and dishonest public officials. In December, I was given the honor of leading this accomplished FBI division into the next decade.
Every decade brings its own challenges, but the FBI’s mission to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution never changes. In Hampton Roads, we expect counterintelligence threats will continue to confront our military and defense industries, malicious cyber actors will target our business community, scammers will attempt to deceive older Americans, and online predators will prey on children. The COVID-19 pandemic will offer criminals new opportunities to dust off old scams, and while violent extremism is not new the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol demonstrates the urgency of those types of threats today.
In response to the Capitol attack, Norfolk is assisting with the FBI’s Washington Field Office investigation. The Norfolk Joint Terrorism Task Force has arrested five individuals in the region for criminal activities related to the attack and continues to identify more thanks in large part to tips from the community.
Protecting Hampton Roads from all forms of violent extremism will continue to be a top priority for Norfolk. Our mission is proactive, and our goal is to prevent international and domestic extremists from conducting violent attacks in the first place. To be clear, the FBI does not investigate First Amendment protected activity. Our focus is not on rhetoric or membership in particular groups, but on violence, threats, and criminal activity. We work together with our partners through the Norfolk JTTF to ensure our communities are safe, but law enforcement efforts alone are not enough to stay ahead of the threats. We need help from the community and ask anyone who witnesses concerning behavior to contact us and help us prevent violent attacks that disrupt our peaceful communities and endanger innocent lives.
The division is also focused on growing threats from cyber criminals. As the virtual world evolves, cyber threats are more pervasive and everyone is a potential target. Ransomware attacks disrupt schools and cripple hospitals. Business e-mail compromise schemes trick employees into diverting financial transfers to criminals. Romance scams victimize older Americans and break hearts as well as bank accounts. Most of these scams originate overseas, and while the FBI has a long reach once money is sent it is very difficult to get it back. Our most effective weapon in this fight is prevention and our public awareness efforts aim to help people avoid becoming a victim. To stay up to date on new warnings follow us on Twitter @FBINorfolk and visit our web page at fbi.gov/Norfolk.
Hampton Roads has long been a target for foreign adversaries and our counterintelligence mission will be one of our most important priorities for decades to come. Hostile adversaries target the region’s critical infrastructure and maritime industries, and foreign intelligence services attempt to leverage insiders to steal military and government secrets, technology, and American know-how. In this arena, we work closely with our military and intelligence partners and lean into relationships we have built within the defense industry, academia, and the private sector to protect the nation’s secrets and economic interests.
Keeping Hampton Roads safe and protecting our vital economic and strategic interests is a shared responsibility, and success requires a community-wide approach built on relationships of trust. For our part, as we carry out the FBI’s mission, we commit to upholding the standards of collaboration, transparency, and integrity this community has come to expect from the Norfolk Division.
Brian C. Dugan
Special Agent in Charge
FBI Norfolk Field Office