FBI Dallas Citizens Academy In and Around Our Nation’s Capital
By Darryl Loy for FBIDCAAA
What an honor and a privilege it was to have been chosen to participate in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Citizens Academy program. For me, the opportunity to be a part of the FBI family is the fulfillment of a long-time dream, going back to my days as an accounting major at Texas Tech University in 1987. Imagine my excitement when I learned near the completion of my CA class of 2018 that graduates have an opportunity to visit Quantico and FBI HQ. This, without question, was a “not-to-be-missed” event. In-fact, I may or may not have gone home that evening and packed a bag!
The 2019 FBI Dallas CA trip, arranged and coordinated by FBI Dallas Community Outreach Specialist Angela Harris, was a two day event with day one spent at the FBI Academy and FBI Lab at Quantico and day two and FBI HQ. Angela also arranged an optional tour of the Library of Congress the day before the FBI facility visits.
Our group, led by Angela Harris, SA Dave Marshall and ASAC Niambi Tillman, met across from FBI HQ for the short trip to Quantico. As we entered the main doors into the FBI Academy complex, Agent Marshall pointed out that it is often at this point that the enormity and life-changing aspect of the agent’s choice to enter into new agent training sets in...although Agent Marshal stated it a bit more eloquently, referring to “the pucker factor” I believe.
We had a wonderful tour guide who was both incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the FBI and the role the FBI Academy plays in the lives of every Special Agent. She shared many facts about the rich history of the FBI as we traversed the halls. One of the more memorable stops on our tour was the Hall of Honor, a very solemn and sacred venue to honor the brothers and sisters who were a part of the FBI National Academy and the FBI who made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives in the line of duty to make our country a better, safer place.
As the tour continued, our guide pointed out that we were proceeding down the same corridor that Jodie Foster ran through in the opening scene of “Silence of the Lamb”. Of course I went back to watch the movie intro a number of times and you do see many areas of the academy on screen!
The academy also has a special room filled with artifacts from the office of J. Edgar Hoover. Here we saw many books from his personal collection as well as many artifacts given to Mr. Hoover during his unbelievable tenure as Director of the FBI. One such artifact, a personal favorite of mine, was a photo of JFK with a handwritten note recognizing Director Hoover as “a valuable defender of our country…”
Our group had the opportunity to have lunch at the academy and hear a great presentation from a former police officer who now consults with the FBI and teaches at the academy. His very personal stories of establishing integrity, a core tenet of the FBI, early in his career and working hard to maintain that throughout his career and into the work he does for the FBI today was very inspiring.
Our tour also included a stop at the infamous FBI Lab. This facility is truly legendary. How many police crime dramas have we all watch where evidence collected needed specialized or highly technical analysis done? And where did those departments want send the evidence for that analysis? To the FBI Lab at Quantico of course! Here we heard presentations from FBI Lab employees on various kinds of physical evidence analysis. We also spent time with Lab specialist in the area of crime scene analysis and she actually shared artifacts from scenes processed in and around the Dallas area! And finally, we were able to see the amazingly vast collection of firearms maintained by the FBI Lab which includes one of almost every firearm ever manufactured as well as a number of historic weapons seized by the FBI over the years.
Our FBI Academy tour concluded with a visit to Hogan’s Alley. Hogan’s Alley is an area within the academy that has been built to simulate a small city. It covers several city blocks and includes a motel, several shops and warehouses, a movie theater, a post office and of course, a bank. We had the opportunity to hear from the agent who runs the Hogan’s Alley facility and hear how the facility is used during new agent training to simulate investigative situations they will encounter as field agents.
Day two also began meeting across the street from FBI HQ. Following a short walk and a trip through security, we were inside FBI HQ, a very unique opportunity to say the least. We were met by the FBI HQ Community Outreach Director who welcomed us and escorted us around the facility. We had an opportunity for a photo op in the courtyard on the ground floor before proceeding up through several other areas. We made our way through an operational support center to a briefing and presentation room where we received a presentation regarding the work the FBI does with respect to Civil Rights Violations. It was here we also had the unexpected honor of hearing from, meeting and having a photo with FBI Director Christopher Wray!
We ended our tour of FBI HQ with a visit to The FBI Experience. This Smithsonian-inspired museum-like experience was a fascinating presentation of many aspects of the FBI story including the many career paths within the FBI, tools used by the field agents for investigations and surveillance as well as stories about and artifacts associated with some of the more notorious criminals brought down by the FBI.
Overall, the opportunity for the FBI CA alumni to visit these Washington D.C. area FBI facilities is must-do. It is an incredible privilege to be a part of the FBI family and to be afforded the opportunity to see these iconic elements of the FBI. Combined with meeting other agents and employees during the trip, you leave with a solid understanding of what truly makes the FBI the amazing and most elite law enforcement agency in the country.