FBI Agents Association Warns of Shutdown Consequences

A new report from the FBI Agents Association brings together voices of agents in the field to describe the real-life consequences of the federal shutdown—for both effective law enforcement and their personal lives.

Since the partial government shutdown began a month ago, numerous associations have raised the alarm over the harm caused by the lapse in public services. The FBI Agents Association may have a particularly strong case.

A new FBIAA initiative is highlighting what federal agents are seeing on the ground. In a new report, “Voices from the Field” [PDF], the association has compiled a series of anonymous accounts from agents detailing the consequences of the shutdown.

“For agents and the FBIAA, the fight for funding is not political. It is a matter of completing our mission and protecting the Constitution and the people of our nation,” the report states. “Agents will continue working to thwart all plots and investigate all incidents, whether child trafficking and exploitation, cyber intrusion, or terrorist attack.”

Some agents expressed concerns about safety.  “I currently investigate a particularly violent street gang. … I have had to tell our local law enforcement partners that I cannot assist in funding these operations because my field office does not have money,” one agent said. “This means that the one chance we may have to take down several violent individuals may pass us by and we may not get the chance again.”

The report notes that the shutdown is making it more difficult to retain agents whose skills are valuable to employers outside of government. “I’ve been an agent for more than four years and have a degree in computer science and work computer intrusions,” said an agent. “Putting up with lower pay than the private sector only makes sense when you actually get paid.”

Speaking to the PBS program NewsHour, FBIAA President Thomas O’Connor noted that agents were “very honest” in the anonymous comments and that their stories show the added pressures that agents face in the shutdown, on top of an already difficult job.

“I don’t care how financially secure you are. You can’t go on forever with that,” O’Connor said. “I most worry about our young agents with families and our support employees, who may be at a lower pay scale. These are the people who are going to suffer and are suffering the soonest.”

The FBI has distanced itself from the report, telling CNN that FBIAA is an independent nonprofit.

(perinjo/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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