James Comey replaced Robert Mueller as director of the FBI early last month. Here in Houston he met with local law enforcement officials, including Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia and Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland.
Comey says he picked Houston as one of the stops on his field offices tour because it’s a very important city for the FBI.
James Comey, director of the FBI
“It’s a center of international commerce and arts and education. It sits very close to an international border and waterways. So, like New York, which is very similar in a lot of ways – although the weather is much better here, and I’m told the barbecue is better here — like New York, it poses all those challenges. The great part about it is, the world is here. Potentially the bad part about it is, bad actors from the world will learn of Houston and be in Houston.”
Comey says the biggest challenge he faces in his first weeks as FBI director is budget cuts. He says during the recent government shutdown, 85 percent of FBI staff worked without pay. And unless Congress replaces the across the board spending cuts known as the sequester, Comey says he’ll have to terminate almost 3,500 positions and furlough all 36,000 FBI employees — including 600 here in Houston
“If I have to furlough people, let’s say I have to send people home for a couple of weeks, the partners who are sitting behind me will lose the presence of those people on all the task forces to address violent crime, to address human trafficking, drugs, counter-terrorism, counter-intelligence that are so important to this area and to the country.”
Comey says right now the FBI is not hiring or training any new agents because of sequestration.