Celebrating Agents of Asian Ancestry: Chris Loo
Retired Special Agent Chris Loo discusses his FBI experience and his Asian background.
My name is Chris Loo and I was a special agent, entered in active duty in 1978 in August and I retired in 1999 in April. And basically during my entire time of assignment in the FBI, I was assigned to the San Francisco Division. I stayed there for my entire career.
In 1981, the SAC called me into his office and said that we needed to hire more minorities because of the diversity program of the Bureau, because we needed people with certain skills to be able to conduct certain investigations. So I was assigned to applicant recruitment and I was specifically told that I was supposed to reach out into the Asian community and make contact and basically make a very concerted effort towards recruiting Asians into the FBI. And during that two-year time that I was in the FBI, I was able to recruit a number of Asian agents. I recruited Fred Wong, who was my first person I recruited. My first stat. Fred eventually became legat in Brussels and Jakarta. I recruited Tony Low,who eventually became the legat in Hong Kong. I recruited the first Chinese Agent female into the Bureau Rita Cheng. So I think I was fairly successful there.
And after applicant recruitment, I was assigned to the organized crime squad. I had done my master’s thesis on Asian organized crime, knew that there was a problem in San Francisco, and I talked to my supervisor and he said, "Fine, you think there is a problem, go ahead and initiate an investigation, develop some informants, work with an organized crime strike force." And myself and another Asian helped to initiate the Asian organized crime program in San Francisco.
Your ethnicity certainly helps open doors in the community that may not be open to a Caucasian agent or a black agent. One of the interviews I did, my early interviews in the security program, we interviewed, or I interviewed, a student from China. And, very hesitant to speak to me, and the person’s sponsor said, "Don't be afraid to speak to Mr. Loo. He’s with the FBI and he’s Chinese." So the ethnicity certainly assists you in getting your foot in the door. But you have to realize that within Asian countries, within Asian cultures, law enforcement was a very corrupt entity. And so people were very hesitant to speak with law enforcement, but within, um, I found the ethnicity issue a plus in helping to get the foot in the door.
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