The FBI Citizens’ Academy is a community outreach program run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It is designed to help teach people about the FBI, including its role in the greater law enforcement community and techniques FBI agents use to help prevent and solve crimes. Only certain people are chosen to attend the FBI Citizens’ Academy. While generally referred to as a single entity, there are actually many separate FBI Citizens’ Academies, each one typically run by a local FBI office.
As the main investigating agency of the U.S. Justice Department, the FBI has jurisdiction to investigate certain types of crimes throughout the country. In this role, coordination with local and state authorities is often required, which may also lead to interaction with key stakeholders in a community. The FBI Citizens’ Academy program was created to help teach these stakeholders about the FBI in order to help foster greater understanding of and cooperation with the federal law enforcement organization.
In general, the FBI Citizens' Academy is around a 30-hour course spread over about 10 sessions. The sessions encompass topics that include the FBI’s legal powers, role in coordinating with local authorities, and weapons training. Operational techniques are also taught, including forensics, collection of evidence, and fingerprinting. Attendees of the program often get to take part in hands-on exercises to practice some of these operational techniques.
To attend the FBI Citizens’ Academy, a person must be chosen by someone who currently works for the FBI or someone who graduated from the FBI Citizen’s Academy in the past. The candidate must typically be at least 21 years old, have no prior felony criminal record, and be a leader in the local community, such as a business owner, religious leader, or other municipal leader. Candidates usually also have to pass a background check and receive temporary security clearance before being admitted into the FBI Citizens’ Academy.
While the program is generally referred to as a single academy, there are actually numerous FBI Citizens’ Academies throughout the U.S. Each one is typically run by a local field office. Courses included in the program are usually taught by the agents in charge of the particular field office where the program is being held, their supervisors, and other FBI experts. All of the instructors work together to help attendees understand the broad role of the FBI, how it can help their communities, and how they in turn can help the FBI better meet its goals.