There is never a shortage of activity in the Chicago FBI office, including investigations into gun trafficking and political corruption. The most recent high-profile case: the massive federal indictment of former House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Now, the head of Chicago’s FBI office is retiring after 30 years of service.
Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. is the first African-American to hold that position, and has been running the Midwest’s largest field office since 2019.
He said many of the challenges during his time in the post came unexpectedly, including a global pandemic.
“The pandemic itself presented challenges because people were concerned for their own personal safety and health as well as their family’s personal safety and health,” Buie said. “And then they put everybody in a mask, which allowed people who were interested in committing crimes kind of a little more cover because it was harder to identify individuals.”
Amid high-profile indictments, Buie said, there’s always the hope that it will be a determent for others not to pursue the same type of conduct.
“The most important thing is that the citizens are aware of anything that is going on that is inappropriate or that they believe to be inappropriate, that they report it right away,” Buie said. “No one in law enforcement, no one that is taking their own serious in politics wants anyone doing anything inappropriate. And in those situations where there are allegations, believe it or not, you have support across the board for those individuals to be pursued to either validate the activity and take the appropriate action or invalidate the activity so that no one’s reputation is harmed seriously by those allegations.”
The Chicago native said more cooperation is needed moving forward to effectively tackle the roots of some of the FBI’s top threats and challenges, such as gang violence.
“It’s a multifaceted problem,” Buie said. “It has been ever since I was a young kid growing up in Chicago. There always needs to be alternatives, right? You can’t arrest your way out of every situation. There has to be alternatives available for these young people to have the opportunity to grow as good citizens. You need to be able to pursue valuable employment or valid employment that’s gonna allow you to support yourself and your family, you also need opportunities for higher education.”
Buie will officially retire from the FBI on Aug. 22.