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KN, p. 219 “The Road to Quantico”

 

 

The name ‘Quantico’ has been synonymous with FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) training for decades, but in fact, Quantico is the town where the Marine Corps Base is situated in Virginia (USA). The FBI Training Academy is located on 547 acres within the Base, and is run by the FBI’s Training Division. Additional training happens elsewhere.

 

Special Agents are the most visible FBI agents to the public at large and for the most part, those are the men and women we see depicted on TV and in movies.

 

So, how do you get to become an FBI Special Agent? Only the best and brightest need apply.

 

Before you ever get to the Academy, there are a few items to check:

 

  • U.S. Citizenship
  • Between the ages of 23 and 36
  • B.A. from accredited U.S. college or university
  • Three years full-time work experience
  • Be eligible for top-secret clearance
  • Physically Fit (in ways most people are not)

 

If you can say with certainty that you meet the minimums listed above (there are others as well) then you might be eligible to apply to be a Special Agent.

 

But before you fill out the paperwork, consider what you will be asked to do. The application process takes at least a year. Then, if you pass all the tests, get through Quantico, this is a twenty year commitment, not a six months to a year try-it-see-if-you-like-it job. You will be required to:

 

  • Stay at the training facility for the 21 week course
  • Maintain a high level of fitness throughout your career
  • Stick to a strict code of conduct throughout your career
  • Work a minimum of 50 hour weeks
  • Be available for posting anywhere in the world for temporary or long-term assignments
  • Be on call 24/7 (weekends and holidays as well)
  • Carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force if needed
  • Place yourself in situations that may result in personal bodily harm

 

Would you and your family be on board with all of that?

Then here’s what the recruiters and interviewers are looking for:

 

  • Leadership
  • Ability to work well with others – if you are a loner, this job is NOT for you
  • Organization & Planning
  • Problem Solving
  • Adaptability
  • Initiative
  • Communication

 

Still interested? Here’s a little of what to expect:

  • You’ll submit the application and be screened for the minimum requirements listed above.
  • Have the first of several rigorous interviews and computerized tests.
  • You’ll do a self-assessment of your physical fitness level and hand it in – no cheating on the times or the reps, because they’ll figure it out fairly quickly if you do and there is zero tolerance for fudging anything, anywhere along the way.
  • Have various health screenings.
  • They will conduct a very deep background check.
  • Pass the timed in-person Physical Fitness Test at least twice during the application period, before actual attendance at the Academy.

 

Once all that is completed satisfactorily, then the candidate might be invited to attend the FBI Academy.

 

The application testing process deals with academics, analytic ability, and health related questions, but the Physical Fitness Test is the one that points to a lifestyle commitment. For the Special Agent applicant, there are four challenges to be tested:

 

  • Maximum number of continuous situps in one minute
  • Timed 300-meter sprint (about 328 yards)
  • Maximum number of continuous pushups
  • Timed 1.5 mile run

To give you an idea of what is involved:

 

A woman can score 1 (one) point for doing 35-36 situps in one minute. 10 (ten) points can be scored for doing 57 and over in one minute. That’s not a typo. Try doing that many situps unless you are in really good shape. Right. I never liked situps. If the candidate stops at any point during the minute, only the situps completed up to that time are counted.

 

The 300-meter sprint looks easier to me, because I ran sprints (and won races) when I was younger. Now? I’d be happy to score 2-3 points, but then I’m not 23 (or even 36) years old anymore.  😉

 

Now for the pushups. These must be performed with a straight body, arms fully extended and elbows away from the body, feet together, and continuously. 45 pushups or more without stopping will earn you 10 (ten) points – guys must do 71 (seventy-one) without stopping to earn the 10 (ten) points. Women can actually get points subtracted if they only do 4 (four) pushups, and won’t earn any points unless they can perform at least 14 (fourteen) pushups without stopping. There is no time limit for the pushup event, but the candidate must score at least one point in order to pass this section. If the candidate pauses at any time during the event, only the pushups completed up to that point are counted.

 

The 1.5 mile run is a timed event. The female candidate must complete the course in no slower than 13:59 in order to get on the board with one point.

 

You are allowed no more than five minutes between each activity and are scored on each one. If you fail one, but do well on the others, it doesn’t matter. You fail the entire test and can retake it at a later date. But not too much later. There is a time limit to re-taking this particular test. Even if you have done well in all other testing, if you can’t pass the PFT, you will not become a Special Agent.

 

Now what? You’ve passed the tests, you’re smart enough, fit enough, and work well with others. You’ve been accepted to the FBI Academy at Quantico.

 

Stay tuned for information about the FBI Academy Training.

*Photo credits: the FBI website

 

 

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KN, p. 218 “What Does the Federal Bureau of Investigation Do?”

 

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is an intelligence-driven and threat-focused national security organization with both intelligence and law enforcement responsibilities.”*  It is the chief fact-finding branch of the Department of Justice and helps other agencies by sharing that information and providing training.

 

Its mission is:

“To protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States.”*

 

In 1908, the United States had about 100 cities with 50,000 people. The rest of the population (about 83 million) was spread throughout the rural areas of the country. Law enforcement personnel at the local level were often poorly paid (and were sometimes volunteer) members of the community. Murders were handled by local investigators and still are to this day. For the majority of the cases, murder is not a federal crime, unless carried out across State lines.

 

Prosecution of border security issues or organized crime was limited in 1908 since there was no adequate way to enforce the law at a national level. In fact, few criminal laws even existed at a federal level. For the most part, individual States and local jurisdictions handled their own criminal investigations, and sometimes that led to political corruption, corporate criminal behavior, and even slave labor in factories. Federal agencies were stretched thin or were nonexistent in some parts of the country.

 

President Teddy Roosevelt supported the idea of modernizing law enforcement, so when his Attorney General hired 34 of his own investigators (including nine seasoned Secret Service agents) to assist the Department of Justice, Roosevelt wholeheartedly endorsed the action. A few months later, the Bureau of Investigation was officially created. Hardly a large force, but it was a start.

 

At the beginning, incidents involving car theft across State lines, civil rights, and various kinds of fraud were the typical cases. The FBI also took on treason and domestic terrorism, and Congress (previously reluctant to loosen the purse strings) began to see the value of a national law enforcement agency.

 

It’s interesting to note that the Mann Act or “White Slave Traffic Act,” was passed in 1910 to help stop interstate prostitution and human trafficking, and the FBI had a role in the early investigations. One hundred years later, it has become an international problem and requires cooperation from many different agencies to obtain successful prosecutions.

 

World War 1 brought us the problems of sabotage by foreign agents against our military ships and munitions plants, as well as international smuggling. The FBI had entered the so-called spy business and worked hard to eliminate those threats.

 

In 1924, it was recognized that fingerprinting was a reliable way of connecting (or eliminating) individuals to a particular scene, and to collect that information in a central location would be helpful to other law enforcement agencies in the United States. Now, the FBI gathers and classifies fingerprints from convicted felons and other criminals, military personnel, federal applicants and employees, and shares that information with appropriate agencies. Additionally, fingerprints of military detainees and other persons of national security interest are being collected for national security purposes.

 

Formerly called Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), the program processes over 63,000 prints a day, is now integrated with other forms of identification and called IAFIS, and can deliver digital information in as little as two hours. It is used in connection with biometric databases (facial and voice recognition) for more accurate identifications. Next Generation Identification (NGI) combines biometrics, fingerprints, and palm prints to expand identification possibilities.

 

One of the programs developed by the FBI is the ‘Ten Most Wanted’ list. It began in 1950 as a way to call attention to fugitives who might otherwise remain at large. Each new list is posted in United States Post Offices and on the FBI website.

 

Since 1950, 518 fugitives have been on the list, and 484 have been apprehended or located. The stats below are from the FBI site:

    • 162 fugitives have been captured/located as a result of citizen cooperation.
    • Two fugitives were apprehended because of visitors on an FBI tour.
    • The shortest amount of time on the list was two hours, by Billy Austin Bryant.
    • The longest amount of time on the list was over 32 years by Victor Manuel Gerena.


With the advent of increased world-wide terrorism, the computer and cyber-security age, more complex corporate crimes, and a global awareness of human trafficking, the focus of the FBI has shifted.

 

At the end of 2017, there were over 35,000 employees, made up of intelligence analysts, field agents, language specialists, scientists, and information technology specialists. They are tasked with investigating:

 

  • Terrorism
  • Counterintelligence
  • Cyber Crime
  • Public Corruption
  • Civil Rights
  • Organized Crime
  • White-Collar Crime
  • Violent Crime
  • WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction)

 

 

Stay tuned for posts about Quantico and training for the FBI, and interviews with former FBI agents.

 

*Photo and quotes credit: (from FBI website)

1969 Latent Print Match
A latent print removed from a 1969 murder victim’s car was later determined to be a match to the suspect’s fingerprint (inset) contained in the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). The Houston police detective and Texas Department of Public Safety latent print technician instrumental in solving the cold case were honored by the FBI with the 2011 “Latent Hit of the Year” Award.

 

 

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KN, p. 216 “Crime Scene at the Beach”

 

 

A recent vacation week took us to the beach and we were lucky enough to rent a cottage right on the ocean. What a pleasure to wake up to seagulls calling to each other as they found breakfast on the incoming surf at the edge of the broad expanse of sand. Morning coffee was extra special as we breathed in the sea air and planned the day ahead.

 

Aside from all the great sunsets, fabulous seafood restaurants, and much-needed relaxation, we found time to chat about fictional bodies and where to find them.

 

TV shows and movies feature their share of corpses that have washed up on the rocks lining the shores of lakes, bays, or oceans. Any crime scene at water’s edge has its own challenges for the CSI techs processing the area for evidence, and our vacation spot highlighted a few.

 

Consider footprints on the sand:

 

 

 

 


This print had been fully visible until a wave washed it partially into oblivion.

 

 

 

 

 


Sneaker treads next to the barefoot print, showed the traffic on the dry part of the beach just a few feet closer to the dune.

 

 

 

 

 

There was more than one kind of sneaker tread to be seen.

 

 

 

 

 

The sneaker and shoe companies have data bases going back several years indicating the treads and styles of the various shoes they have manufactured. A search warrant or a friendly conversation with the people at the companies will reveal specialty editions of their footwear and the year they were produced. Matching the footwear to the prints on the beach can narrow the suspect list – helpful if the culprit remained in the area and the sneaker was an unusual brand.

 

Consider the tire tracks:

 

 

A windy afternoon caused this tire tread to lose its definition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This new tire tread was just ten feet away from the footprints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beach bikes were in use as well. I didn’t have a ruler with me, so Sheila donated her sandal. This gives you some perspective of the width of the tread, essential in determining the type of vehicles near the ‘scene of the crime.’

 

 

 

 

 

Tire companies have data bases as well, and make their information available to law enforcement officers when needed. CSI techs take photos of the various treads for later ID and if needed, make casts of the footwear prints. Read “Is that your footprint?” here.

 

All three vehicle treads were within 20 feet of each other, along with all the footwear prints seen here – and it wasn’t high season yet, when a greater variety of cars, dune buggies, bikes, and shoes would be around.

 

Any crime scene in such a well-traveled place means it will be tough to find the killer. Nature washes or blows away the evidence and the crime scene is compromised by all the foot and vehicle traffic.  

 

Law enforcement officers have to hope for witnesses to the dastardly deed.

 

We turned our attention to the places to hide the body:

 

 

 

This lovely walkway leading from the cottage to the dunes gave access to an area that looked suitable for body stashing. Except that it wasn’t really all that great for anything covert. Three houses near ours had direct line of sight to that walkway, and all had overhead lights strung along their own paths to the beach.

 

Each of the other houses had three floors – ours was the smallest of the group.  That meant that anyone looking out at the ocean could also see anyone dragging a body out to the beach grass next to/under the boards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But, let’s say that nobody is looking out the window. While it is illegal to dig up the beach grass in the dunes because of erosion programs in most oceanside communities, a killer would have no such concerns. BUT, that Beach Grass (actual name is American Beach Grass) is tough. It’s meant to be, so that it holds the sand in place during stormy weather. It would not be practical or at all speedy to dig a hole in a grass-covered dune in order to hide the body.

 

Maybe that’s why so many bodies in the TV movies are dumped elsewhere and merely wash up on the beach. Then the writers don’t have to worry about how to hide the body at the scene of the crime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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