FBI efforts to end discrimination against blacks, Hispanics and women within the bureau will produce measurable results within a year, Director William S. Sessions says.
"I have made it clear throughout the FBI - not just to top management - that all forms of discrimination are repulsive and will not be tolerated," Sessions told a House Judiciary panel Tuesday.He told the subcommittee that he would fight not only hiring discrimination but racial harassment and a practice that Hispanic FBI agents say has repeatedly blocked them from advancement within the bureau.
The Hispanics say they are often thrown into stopgap roles for which Spanish-speaking agents are needed and as a result miss out on in-depth investigative experience that leads to promotion.
The FBI, responsible for enforcing the nation's civil rights laws, has 8,723 special agents, of whom 419 are black, 453 are Hispanic, 119 are of Asian background and 40 are American Indians.
Sessions told the panel that represents an increase of 27 black agents and 54 Hispanics since October 1987.
Trainees not yet in the field are included, however, and FBI officials were unable to say immediately how many employees have been added overall since 1987, thus leaving unclear the percentage increase in minorities if any, noted Rep. Craig T. James, R-Fla.
"We may have lost ground as far as agents in the field and may need to catch up," James said.
Discrimination suits against the bureau, one brought by 238 Hispanic agents, have resulted in disclosures of bias.
Members of Congress are urging the FBI to settle the lawsuits quickly.