In coming months, dozens of FBI supervisors in cities around the country will face a choice: relocate to Washington or step down and take significant pay cuts. It’s the result of a five-year term limit started by Director Robert Mueller as a way to fill vacancies at headquarters and broaden the expertise of FBI managers as the agency reorganizes to combat terrorism. Critics predict the policy will skim talent and expertise from states, which count on the FBI to build long-term cases. They say that putting mobsters and corrupt officials in jail will be harder if veteran investigators opt for retirement or the private sector.
“I’m not sure that’s good for a community that wants its corrupt politicians in jail, that wants scrutiny of organized crime, that wants to catch bank robbers, fugitives and terrorists,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), a former agent who wrote to Mueller last month questioning the plan. The FBI estimates that 87 supervisors will hit the term limit this year and hundreds more will in coming years. The policy, known throughout the FBI as “Up or Out,” is the first mid-management shake-up in a generation. There are 983 supervisors in 56 field offices around the country. The change will be jarring for police who have partnerships with local FBI supervisors, said Edward Flynn, the Springfield, Ma., police commissioner who sits on a national panel reviewing changes at the FBI. “Police chiefs like myself are going to say, ‘We like our guy. Don’t move him,'” Flynn said. “But my interests may not be identical to the FBI as an organization. It has got to force those painful choices on its staff.”