The FBI Academy in Quantico
A few weeks ago I took a trip with the Columbia, SC FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association (FBICAAA) to the FBI Training Academy.
We boarded an early morning train in Charlotte bound for Quantico. This was my first trip on Amtrak, and even though our travel agent had sent us maps, time tables, menus and “Tips for Riding Amtrak”, I didn’t really know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by the journey itself! For me, riding the rails was a new way to travel. For one thing, I wasn’t in charge of the stops and starts! The Carolinian made a total of 14 stops at train stations along the way for passengers to embark and disembark.
Normally I am all about getting from point A to point B the quickest way possible. But this was a ride to remember. The rolling hills, farmland, and waters of eastern NC and VA are beautiful. There is a rich history and thriving population there. And the opportunities to discover, learn, and get to know other people were great.
At last, we arrived at our final destination! After we settled in at our motel, we shared a relaxing dinner and conversation with friends.
The next morning we drove to the US Marine Corps Base at Quantico, where the FBI Academy is located on 385 wooded acres. I was excited to explore and learn more about the FBI!
Even though I had been through the training with the Citizen’s Academy and learned a lot about the Bureau, most of my “knowledge” base was from seeing the agency portrayed in television shows such as Numb3rs, Criminal Minds, and FBI and films like Point Break, Donnie Brasco and Silence of the Lambs.
Unfortunately, I cannot talk about everything thing I saw and learned because…
What happens at the Academy stays at the Academy.
The FBI Academy is dedicated to being the premier law enforcement learning and research center and an advocate for law enforcement’s best practices worldwide.
One of the first things that I saw at the Academy was this 9/11 Memorial. This was originally a gift from one of the classes. The towers, held together by the outline of the state of Pennsylvania, sit on the frame of the Pentagon – the scenes of the 3 sites of terrorism on that date. At the base are 3 plaques which hold an actual piece of each of those sites. Subsequent classes have donated landscaping surrounding the memorial. The FBI was very involved in the investigation of 9/11.
Next, our tour guide told us about the FBI Ten Most Wanted List, which has been around since 1949. The day that we were there, a new fugitive, Eric Toth, was added. This list grew out of a conversation between J. Edgar Hoover and a newspaper editor to capture the “toughest guys” that kept eluding the FBI.
Being a psychologist, one of the programs at the academy that I was most interested in was the Behavioral Sciences Unit. Behavioral science is all about understanding the criminal mind. It’s not only important to know who criminals are, but how they think, what they want, and why they do the things that they do. Understanding these behaviors and applying these insights to criminal investigation is known as profiling.
The FBI Laboratory, which has been in operation since 1932, is currently on the grounds at Quantico. The Lab provides forensic and scientific analysis, operational response, evidence control, and forensic science services to the FBI and other local and state law enforcement agencies.
This was one of the most interesting aspects of the program tour – to learn how the FBI utilizes technology and forensic science to profile, analyze, and solve crimes.
Another of the programs at the Academy is the International Training and Assistance Unit: ITAU, whose mission is to “develop effective law enforcement training programs for police in the international arena to successfully combat and prevent terrorist acts against citizens and institutions of the US both abroad and domestically.”
The FBI Tactical Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) was our next stop. This unit was formed in 1983 for the purpose of responding to any extraordinary hostage crisis or other situation that may occur in this country which requires law enforcement assistance. Currently, this team also responds to FBI and law enforcement cases abroad as well. The team operates quickly and often under extreme secrecy. They are among the most professional, fit and elite group within the Bureau.
After lunch, we made the journey to a simulated town know as Hogan’s Alley. It is in this fictitious town – complete with a hotel, a restaurant, a post office, a bank, homes, apartments, and other buildings – that FBI and DEA agent trainees learn investigative techniques, firearms skills, and defensive tactics.
Our last stop was the defensive driving course of The Tactical and Emergency Vehicle Operations Center (TEVOC). This group is responsible for teaching safe and efficient driving techniques to FBI and DEA personnel and other government and military personnel.
That about wraps it up because if I tell you anymore – well…
For more information – FBI Academy