FBI offers 7-week citizens’ course showing how the office works

MCCLELLAN PARK, Calif. (KTXL) – The reputation of the FBI has been tarnished in recent years due to scandals, flawed investigations and political attacks.

One of the ways the FBI is trying to improve its image in the Sacramento area is by educating the public through a unique program called Citizens Academy.

The academy provides members of the public with hands-on experience and a deeper insight into how the office works.

Lincoln resident Victor Tanon told FOX40 some of his reasons for joining the program.

“With all the crazy things going on right now about cybersecurity issues, terrorism, that’s all you see when you turn on the radio or the news,” Tanon explained.

Tanon’s reasons coincide with the FBI’s reasons for asking more people to apply for agency positions.

With 35,000 members nationwide, the FBI is the largest crime-fighting organization in the United States. In Northern California alone, the office has a lot of ground to cover.

“We cover 34 of 58 counties in California, from the Oregon border to LA,” said Sean Ragan, the special agent in charge of the FBI office in Sacramento. “So we want to engage in the northern part of the state here: Modesto, Stockton, Fresno, Bakersfield. “

The Citizens Academy’s seven-week course gives participants a feel for what it’s like to be an FBI agent, from investigating crimes to using guns.

A group of students completed two intense months of academic training in the Sacramento area with a day on the range.

“They bring out a number of weapons that they use and different demos. We can see some of the things they actually use and how they use them, ”said Dylan Jackson, a resident of Roseville.

Throughout the academy, students learn how the FBI examines evidence in laboratories, analyzes intelligence data, and exercises the proper use of firearms.

Ragan told FOX40 that the point of all of this is to hear what the community has to say, to seek feedback and ideas to do better.

For some, like Chris Cooper, a Roseville resident who works with youth affected by violent crime, parts of the course have touched deeply.

“The FBI is using as many resources as possible to make sure children are protected. Is everything perfect? No it’s not, ”Cooper said. “But as a new dad, it’s good to know that the federal government is doing everything it can to protect young people like infants, toddlers.”

Cooper said he was implementing the knowledge he gained into his career weeks later. He helps struggling youth through support groups and mentors at the Mack Road Valley High Community Center in South Sacramento.

“I decided that with my transition, from everything I learned, to apply it to my work, in particular, what more can we do to serve people of color, especially in regarding gun violence, ”Cooper explained.

He said creating change means bringing young voices like Imani Waweru to the table. Waweru is an intern at the Health Education Council.

“I think there is no way to bridge a gap between law enforcement and citizens without being genuine and without being truthful,” Waweru said. “So that’s the most important thing I’ve tried to do in this space is have these conversations and hold law enforcement to account.”

Cooper said accountability begins with educating both sides.

“You can’t build a bridge without being part of learning groups. The FBI Citizens Academy was an interesting learning group, ”Cooper said. “It was a risk to take it, but I’m glad I did and I’ll use all connections and resources to make sure I support the people I serve.”

The FBI has said it is open to discussing the needs of the community and is also working to educate the public about its role in investigating all kinds of wrongdoing, from terrorism and hacking to civil rights violations. and public corruption.

“Actually, I’m not involved in law enforcement at all, I’m an engineer by trade. So everything is completely different and from the different perspective and all they do to protect us, it’s a whole side of the world that I just haven’t been exposed to, ”Jackson told FOX40.

Tanon said the training gave him perspective as well.

“We have to learn how to defuse a bomb, we have to learn how to do a lot of cool stuff,” Tanon said. “I really have a higher sense of appreciation for what these people sacrifice every day, having to look over their shoulders, it’s probably not me.”

And at a time when law enforcement at all levels is under scrutiny, Cooper said the program is a step in the right direction.

“I walk away from the program knowing and feeling safer and more informed. And there’s so much trust that needs to be built between the community and law enforcement, but at least I’m going to be able to take the information and share it with my friends and family, ”Cooper said.

The program is free to apply, however, space is limited. To find out more about the program, tap or click here.

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