Saturday marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the FBI, something local agents are taking note of.
"It's very interesting when you think about 1908; there were only 34 agents and now we have 31,000 employees," said Tim Fuhrman, special agent-in-charge of the FBI's Salt Lake City office.
The FBI has evolved rapidly over the past century, Fuhrman said, from its roots in organized crime investigations and the mystique of J. Edgar Hoover's "G men" to a post 9/11 counterintelligence world.
"When I came in, we didn't have computers," Fuhrman said.
He highlights technology advances and greater inter-agency cooperation as successes but acknowledges that the FBI is not infallible.
"There's no question that the tension that exists between security and civil liberties has always existed," Fuhrman said. "I do think the majority of Americans have a positive view of the FBI, but it can be damaged if we don't maintain balance between national security and civil liberties."
Locally, the FBI recently hosted a community event in Murray to promote the agency. The local office also hosts a "citizen's academy" that explains the functions of the agency. Recruitment and diversity remain a struggle, Fuhrman said."Generally, the FBI has got to do a better job of making sure that we reflect the society at large in our employees," he said. "We have a lot of people in our organization that wouldn't have been there 40 or 50 years ago, because we weren't recruiting in those areas. We need to make sure we have people who not only come to work for the FBI from different minority groups, but they understand how the FBI can serve those groups."
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