The diversity of the FBI's agent ranks slipped further in the past three years, Politico reports. African Americans accounted for 4.5 percent of agents at the end of 2014, down from 4.74 percent in early 2012 and 5.6 percent in 1997. Hispanic agents made up 6.81 percent of the force in December 2014, down from 7.14 percent in 2012 and 6.9 percent in 1997. The numbers were posted on the FBI website after some high-profile attention to the agency's problems recruiting a more diverse workforce.
FBI Director James Comey delivered a speech on racial issues this month, acknowledging that unconscious racial biases pervade police work, particularly in low-income communities that draw a lot of police attention. During a question-and-answer period, Comey said he believes it's important that law enforcement personnel be diverse. He acknowledged that the FBI hasn't done enough to hire and retain racial minorities and women as part of the elite force of special agents. “It is an imperative for all of us in law enforcement to try to reflect the communities we serve,” said Comey, who took over as FBI director in 2013. “Big challenge for the FBI — the FBI is overwhelmingly white and male among my agent force. … I have to change the numbers.”