FBI director meets with Connecticut police chiefs

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — On a visit with Connecticut police chiefs, FBI Director James Comey said Tuesday that he spoke about how law enforcement can participate better in the national conversation about race and policing.

Comey said he wanted to keep the details private but it was a useful, productive discussion.

“As you would expect in the Nutmeg State, it was a thoughtful and rich conversation,” said Comey, a former attorney for Bridgewater Associates, a Westport-based hedge fund, who still considers Connecticut home.

Comey was speaking with reporters as he made his second visit to the FBI’s New Haven field office since becoming director nearly two years ago.

In an appearance February at Georgetown University in Washington, Comey spoke about fraught relations between police and minority communities. Amid the outcry over the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York, at the hands of white police officers, Comey said he felt there had not been a healthy dialogue and he did not want to see important issues drift away.

Asked about bias among law enforcement officers on Tuesday, he said there is a racism problem with all human beings. At the FBI, he said he is troubled by a steady drop in the percentage of special agents who are minorities, but he said his only diversity problem is getting candidates interested in coming to the work for the bureau.

Comey said his conversation with local law enforcement Tuesday touched on improvements since a change of leadership in the New Haven field office.

“We’re in a good place in Connecticut,” Comey said. “It was mostly a positive discussion about how they perceive law enforcement relationships to have improved particularly under the leadership I now have and have had for two years here in Connecticut, and that’s a good thing.”

A lawsuit filed last year by a Connecticut FBI agent alleged poor management had affected the bureau’s relationships with other agencies. The lawsuit, filed by Kurt Siuzdak, said Comey apologized to employees on his last visit to New Haven for failures to correct leadership failures.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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