Director's Opening Remarks to the Senate Judiciary Committee
Remarks as delivered.
Thank you and good morning, Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Grassley, and members of the Committee.
You know, just a couple days ago, I passed the five-year mark for my tenure as Director, and I’d like to start today by saying just how proud I am to serve alongside the 38,000 men and women who make up the FBI.
You know, over the past five years, I’ve traveled to all 56 FBI field offices; in fact, as of next week I will have been to all 56 of them twice. And all over the country, I’ve spoken with prosecutors, judges, victims, and our law enforcement partners, and I continue to be impressed and moved both by what I see first-hand and by what I hear from others about the quality of our workforce.
Our agents, analysts, and professional staff serve the public with rigor, objectivity, and a fierce passion for our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution. The breadth, depth, and complexity of the threats our folks are tackling are immense, and I continue to be inspired by the work they do on behalf of the American people.
Each and every day, the men and women of the FBI are taking on the Chinese government’s broad-scale economic espionage campaign targeting our ideas, our innovation, our economic security. They're working with our government, foreign, and private sector partners to meet the danger from cyber actors, including fighting the scourge of ransomware attacks against U.S. businesses and critical infrastructure. They're battling both domestic and international terrorism, including, as the recent Zawahiri strike reinforces, the threat of foreign terrorist organizations like al Qaeda attempting to reconstitute in Afghanistan.
They're investigating crimes against children and going after those who would prey on the most vulnerable among us. They're countering hate crimes, including an alarming number of threats aimed at Asian Americans, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, religious institutions, and other public spaces across the country. They're ensuring the integrity of elections and working to protect the election workers who administer them. And the list goes on.
But I want to use these few minutes to focus on one threat in particular—and Senator Grassley mentioned it, as well—which is the threat of violent crime.
You know, I speak with chiefs and sheriffs all the time—in fact, just about every week, sometimes more—and the number one concern I hear from them, by far, is rising violence in their communities.
Whether it’s gangs terrorizing a neighborhood, well-known trigger-pullers who keep finding their way back out onto the streets, robbery crews graduating from carjackings to aggravated assaults, and worse. The violent crime problem is real, and it’s one we are firmly determined to combat.
The core of our violent crime strategy remains our FBI task forces. We are working shoulder-to-shoulder with our state and local partners all across the country through more than 300 FBI task forces made up of close to 3,000 members. We’re using intelligence to drive proactive investigations, to identify and target the most violent and dangerous offenders—the worst of the worst. We’re working with our partners to build capacity and to provide tools, including by deploying additional resources to some of the hardest hit cities, to maximize our impact.
And we’re seeing results.
For instance, in just one week this summer:
- FBI Phoenix arrested more than a dozen individuals on drugs and firearms charges as part of a gang investigation into the Lindo Park Crips.
- FBI Sacramento, as part of an investigation into the Oak Park Bloods, arrested eight and seized pounds of methamphetamine, fentanyl, and multiple handguns, including one “ghost gun” and another equipped with a “switch” that made it fully automatic.
- And FBI San Antonio arrested 18 suspected drug traffickers with cartel ties, charging them with trafficking large quantities of methamphetamine.
That is just three FBI field offices in a single week.
If you step back and look at all of last fiscal year, FBI task forces focused on violent crime made more than 17,000 arrests, seized more than 8,000 firearms, and dismantled, dismantled, nearly 300 gangs and criminal enterprises across the country. And we are not going to let up.
Now, every chance I get, I also try to highlight that law enforcement is taking on this challenge at a time when the job is becoming more and more dangerous—especially, especially for our state and local brothers and sisters.
In 2021, 73 officers were feloniously killed—as in, murdered—while on the job, more than in any year since the 9/11 attacks.
At the FBI, we experienced our share of loss last year, too. We had Special Agents Laura Schwartzenberger and Dan Alfin killed taking on one of the hardest jobs in the FBI, investigating crimes against children. And one of our longtime task force officers, Terre Haute Detective Greg Ferency, was shot and killed in an ambush right outside one of our offices.
Alarmingly, this year’s deaths are nearly keeping pace with last year's. In fact, this June, more officers were murdered in this country than in any single month in the past four years. The men and women of law enforcement make heroic sacrifices for all of us, and they need our support and deserve to know we’ve got their backs.
Now, of course, in addition to the escalation of violent crime, this year has also brought the horror of mass shootings into sharp relief—places like Buffalo, as you mentioned Mr. Chairman, Uvalde, and Highland Park, in your home state.
These attacks on regular everyday people going about their regular, everyday lives are devastating for the communities affected, certainly, but they touch us all, and I can assure you the FBI family feels the heartbreak, too, and we’re committed to doing our part to assist our partners and support victims and their families.
At all levels of government and law enforcement, our fundamental duty is to make sure Americans can feel safe and secure in their own communities. And, of course, violence and mass violence are just one part of that.
The range of criminal and national security threats that we face as a nation has never been greater or more diverse, and the demands and expectations on the FBI have never been higher.
Our fellow citizens look to us to protect the United States from all those threats, and I am grateful—as I know we all are—to the men and women of the FBI who continue to rise to meet those challenges every day.
So, thank you for your support in helping us carry out that mission, and I’d be happy to address your questions.