In Breaking News – The Wall Street Journal
Few law enforcement jobs are more coveted than the FBI’s special agent positions, but the tightest labor market in decades is forcing the bureau to do something it has rarely had to do: aggressively recruit candidates.
A slump in the number of special agent applicants—from a peak of 68,500 in 2009 to 11,500 in the year that ended in September—has forced the nation’s top law enforcement agency to overhaul its recruitment, increase its outreach, target women and minorities and relax some eligibility requirements, interviews and data show.
(Special agents from around the field discuss what it’s like to work for the FBI and the qualities needed to become an agent. Courtesy of the FBI and YouTube.)
(A look at the FBI Training Academy commonly referred to as Quantico, based in Stafford County, Virginia. Courtesy of USA Network and YouTube.)
“We had a lot of discussion internally about why the number of special agent applicants were fluctuating so much over the years. We were trying to figure out what’s the story,” Peter Sursi, who runs recruitment and hiring at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said in an interview.
The FBI’s renewed focus on recruitment comes as the bureau remains under intense pressure over its handling of politically sensitive investigations, including special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
President Trump has derided the investigation, which began as an FBI inquiry and still uses the bureau’s agents and resources, as a “witch hunt.”
(The first weeks of training at the FBI Academy can be both exciting and nerve wracking. For many new trainees, the arrival at Quantico is a significant step in a lifelong journey to becoming a special agent. Courtesy of the FBI and YouTube.)
Major leadership shake-ups—Mr. Trump’s firing of Director James Comey in 2017 and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ firing of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe in 2018—further added to the turmoil within the bureau, and polls have shown that the public’s view of the FBI has soured in recent years.
The political fallout may have complicated recruitment efforts, but current and former officials note that the downward trend in applications began years before the recent controversies.
FBI recruiters say the bureau’s biggest hiring challenge is rooted in economics, not politics: With unemployment hovering at near-historic lows, the most attractive candidates have many other options.
Continue reading… FBI’s Most Wanted: More Applicants for Special Agents
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