Threats to our nation from within and without aren’t declining, and the Northern San Joaquin Valley and foothills are no exception, an FBI official said Friday. And a recently opened Ripon office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation will allow agents to respond to those “diverse and complex” threats with the ability to expand as needed, said Acting Special Agent in Charge Tom Osborne in a phone interview from Sacramento.
The resident agency located at 650 N. Wilma Ave. in Ripon consolidates the resources previously housed in the Stockton and Modesto resident agencies, said Gina B. Swankie, public affairs specialist with the FBI’s field office in Sacramento. The resident agency is a satellite of the FBI Sacramento office and serves Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne counties, she said. Sacramento serves 34 counties in total.
Staffing at the Ripon office, which opened March 20, includes 14 agents, Osborne said. They are “basically broken into two squads. One squad of seven agents works on national security, counterintelligence, terrorism and cybercrime,” he said. “The other squad is everything else criminal – gangs, organized crime, white-collar crime, drugs.”
Out of the latter side, the FBI operates its Central California Gang Impact Task Force and its Stockton Safe Streets Task Force, Osborne said. The national-security squad operates a Joint Terrorism Task Force.
A lot went into deciding the location of the Ripon office, Osborne said, and it’s “happenstance” that it is less than a half-mile from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Forensic Services Central Valley Crime Lab. The lab is behind the Ripon Police Department. It’s always good for synergy if the FBI happens to find a space close to other agencies with like goals, he said.
At one point, maybe a decade ago, when the FBI couldn’t find a suitable space elsewhere in Modesto, it operated out of the DoubleTree Hotel, Osborne said. In more recent years, it had another home in Modesto. But neither the Modesto nor Stockton resident agencies has space to grow at their sites, and an advantage of the Ripon location is room for expansion, he said.
The change in location is likely to go unnoticed by residents of Modesto, Ripon and Stockton. “We’re not first responders; what we do is investigative in nature,” Osborne said. “If there was, say, an active shooter situation, we of course would respond. Our overall mission in the bureau is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution.”
The Sacramento field office and, by extension, the Ripon office can be reached through www.fbi.gov/sacramento or tips.fbi.gov. And anyone can go to the Wilma Avenue office for business such as filling out a complaint, Osborne said. “It’s not a secret location.”
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327