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Chicago FBI to have its first African American leader

Emmerson Buie Jr., a 27-year veteran of the FBI, is headed to Chicago from El Paso, a source said.

Emmerson Buie Jr.
Emmerson Buie Jr.
FBI El Paso Twitter

Chicago’s FBI field office will get its first African American leader next month when Emmerson Buie Jr. is set to take over as special agent in charge, according to a source.

The 27-year veteran of the FBI is headed to Chicago from El Paso, Texas, the source said. The FBI has previously identified Buie as a Chicago native.

Buie began his career with the FBI in 1992, starting in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and working out of the FBI’s Denver division. In 1999, he was assigned to the Weapons of Mass Destruction Unit at FBI headquarters, spending about three years in that role.

Buie also has been the senior supervisory resident agent in downstate Fairview Heights, working out of the Springfield division.

He also has been the agency’s assistant legal attache in London and the acting deputy legal attache there. Buie spent four years in the U.S. Army and was an infantry officer in Operation Desert Storm.

Chicago’s new FBI chief arrives amid what appear to be multiple corruption investigations targeting some of the city and state’s most high-profile politicians.

Though records show investigators have been laying the groundwork for years, it wasn’t until the FBI in November raided the City Hall office of Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) that the issue roared into the news, upending the mayor’s race.

Since then, Burke has been hit with a racketeering indictment. Former Ald. Danny Solis (25th) has been outed as a cooperator who recorded Burke. Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) has landed in the crosshairs of a grand jury. State Sen. Thomas Cullerton has been indicted. And associates of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, D-Chicago, have been circled by federal authorities.

Jeffrey Sallet, Chicago’s outgoing FBI chief, declined in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times last month to discuss the ongoing investigations but said, “I don’t lose sleep about the corruption.

“The people that are corrupt public officials, I assure you, are losing sleep about us. And I think that’s more evident now.”

Buie will replace Sallet, who spent nearly two years leading Chicago’s field office. Sallet arrived in 2017 from New Orleans and took over for Michael J. Anderson, who also spent a little less than two years in the job.

During his tenure, Sallet also turned his attention in Chicago to mass acts of violence. After last year’s mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, Sallet said the Chicago FBI rolled out a new squad made up of roughly 17 agencies and 34 people. He said it “addresses, on a daily basis, all the mass-acts-of-violence complaints we get in the entire Northern District of Illinois.”