Emmerson Buie Jr. speaks ahead of retirement as special agent in charge of FBI Chicago office

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ByJudy Hsu via WLS logo
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
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Emmerson Buie Jr., Chicago's first African American agent in charge, will retire after running the nation's fourth largest FBI field office.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- After 30 years in federal law enforcement, the special agent in charge of the FBI division in Chicago is retiring.

Emmerson Buie Jr. will step down in three weeks, but first he sat down with ABC7 to talk about growing up in Chicago and also the challenges facing law enforcement today.

"The agency has changed quite a bit in my opinion for the better," Buie said. "Doesn't mean that we're perfect, but it always means that we're striving to get better."

For Buie, returning to Chicago to round out his decades long FBI career is a storybook ending.

"Growing up here in Chicago, of course I had my sights set on a number of other things," he said. "Everything from playing professional sports to being a businessman or entrepreneur, but I ended up in law enforcement which I've never had an interest in."

After applying at the advice of a friend, the Desert Storm veteran rose through the ranks, landing back home in 2019 as Chicago's first African American agent in charge, running the nation's fourth largest field office. We asked him about the biggest threats the bureau is focused on today.

"Terrorism is always going to be the number one priority of the FBI," he said, "but the number one threat today of course is cybercrime and the counter intelligence threat mixed together."

"Domestic extremism, it's in the forefront of our minds as well," Buie added. "We all witnessed what transpired on January 6th. It seems to have emboldened a number of people to come out of the darkness and try to move forward in pushing that agenda."

Buie also shared how he maintains his focus when investigating devastating events like the Highland Park parade shooting on the Fourth of July.

"I was always able to get focused because I always thought I was doing the right thing, and that's what's important, right?" he said. "So you want to do the best you can for them, you want to go out and bring that person to justice you want to do everything right so nothing is lost in the exchange trying to get that prosecution."

"We're all in this together," he added. "We're all in this constant battle, you know, unfortunately when incidents happen we have to show a resiliency, but sometimes we have to build up to that to get back to center."

Buie also said he hopes the FBI will continue to work on recruiting from under-represented communities to ensure that "they have the best people from every walk of life that the agency serves."

Buie will officially retire on August 22.