Crime - Sacto 911

New FBI director praises Sacramento law enforcement for cooperation

Days after an “officer down” call drew almost a dozen agencies to Roseville, the man newly appointed to head the Federal Bureau of Investigation praised Sacramento-area law enforcement as a model of cooperation.

James Comey, who was sworn in as the FBI’s seventh director in September, said there is “something magical” in the local water that encourages partnerships among local, state and federal authorities.

“I’m going to try and find a way to bottle it and spread it around the country,” Comey said in a brief news conference outside the FBI’s Sacramento office, surrounded by a dozen local chiefs and sheriffs.

Cooperation also was a theme when President Barack Obama introduced Comey on Monday.

“He’s the perfect leader for an organization whose walls are graced by the words of a legendary former director: ‘The most effective weapon against crime is cooperation,’” Obama said.

Comey spent much of his career as a prosecutor in New York and earned a reputation for his successful prosecution of organized crime. He moved to Washington, D.C., in 2003 when he was tapped to be the deputy attorney general at the Department of Justice under then-U.S. Attorney John Ashcroft.

He visited the Sacramento office of the FBI in a motorcade of three sport-utility vehicles and two California Highway Patrol cruisers. Two canines did sweeps of the area and stood close by as Comey spoke to reporters.

Asked about his earlier comments that the FBI should not be swayed by politics or special interests, Comey said he is just reiterating a “core value” of the agency.

“The FBI has been and always must be ... an independent force,” he said.

However, Comey was adamant in his refusal to discuss recent revelations about the FBI’s investigation into state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello. Generally, though, he said that public corruption is “one of the FBI’s top criminal priorities.”

Speaking again of his observations about Sacramento’s law enforcement community, Comey praised the “spectacular” relationships as well as the agencies’ commitment to driving down violent and drug-related crime.

The weather’s not bad either, he said.

“What a great place to live,” he said.