Picture an FBI agent in your mind. Most of you will envision neatly dressed men or women, garbed in conservative dark suits, plain blouses, and shirts and ties. An alternate view might be that of the navy blue windbreaker with the foot high, yellow FBI lettering emblazoned on the back. Haircuts are conservative for both men and women. If not exactly a uniform, very close. So, if you like to wear purple shirts to work and dye your hair turquoise, the job of a Special Agent is not the perfect fit for you.
“What Does the FBI Do?” dealt with a bit of history – how/why the FBI came into being and what it is responsible for now.
“The Road to Quantico” dealt with entrance requirements for the FBI Academy at Quantico.
You’ve passed the preliminary tests, set your sights on a life in law enforcement serving in one of the most famous agencies in the world. You’ve competed against hundreds of thousands of other applicants, and feel more than ready to take on the Academy challenges. What’s next?
You will report to Quantico for 21 weeks of intensive training and will live in dormitory style accommodations during your stay. The Academy site is much like a college campus, in that it has classrooms, conference rooms, a library, a gym, a pool, and a dining hall. What sets it apart in structure is that it also has a firing range, a mock town, and a high-speed 1.1-mile oval road track.
Much of the Basic Field Training Course will take place in a classroom, while candidates study a curriculum that reflects the experiences most likely to be encountered in the field. Special Agent trainees and Intelligence Analyst trainees will work together to develop the skills to collect, share, and use the information available to investigate terrorists and dangerous criminals. If the trainees fall short of the FBI standards, they will be sent home.
Basic Field Training Course includes:
Among other areas, the trainees study applications of the law, ethics, human behavior, report writing, intelligence techniques, and forensic science. Students learn how to manage and run a variety of investigations, including those dealing with counterterrorism, spies, weapons of mass destruction, and cyber crimes.
At Quantico, case exercises are a method of presenting real-life situations to prepare the candidates for their future of working in the field. A typical exercise starts with a tip and ends in the arrests of the suspects. Hogan’s Alley is a mock town at the Academy where some of this action may take place. In some scenarios, candidates might get to try the case in a mock trial.
It is assumed that at some point in their service, FBI Special Agents will have a deadly force encounter, so they must prepare for it. As of this writing (2018) the new agent trainees work with a Bureau-issued pistol, carbine, and shotgun. They focus on marksmanship, but also receive instruction on firearms safety and live fire situations.
Acquiring information in the classroom is only part of the training at Quantico. The ability to apply that information to real-life circumstances is essential to the success of any operation. The candidates work on the basics of disarming and handcuffing suspects, searches, surveillance, and tactical driving.
At Hogan’s Alley, trainees practice different arrest options, as well as street survival techniques. Realistic drills might include how to handle a bank robbery or a kidnapping.
Aside from acquiring the basic knowledge needed to do the job successfully, the agents must be in top shape. To that end, even after passing the entrance level of fitness tests, fitness training continues and so does the testing. Nobody is likely gain any extra weight during the 21 weeks at the Academy, but they may acquire a few more muscles. They must continue to do well in the number of sit-ups in one minute, a timed 300-meter sprint, a significant number of push-ups (untimed), and a timed 1.5-mile run. See the “The Road to Quantico” for more fitness details.
The rise of terrorism and the shrinking global community has forced law enforcement agencies all over the world to evolve. The FBI Academy now offers more focused training for intelligence analysts, recognizing that more informed collection and analysis of certain data can help to eliminate threats against our country. Teaching tradecraft is an aspect of the training. These days, it’s standard practice for the Intelligence Analysts and the Special Agent candidates to work side-by-side in the classes, developing a collegial approach to solving cases.
TV and the movies show us enough car chases to imply that this is a part of the daily life of any and all law enforcement officers. While not exactly true that it happens to everyone and/or on a daily basis, the men and women that attend the Academy must know how to handle those rare occasions when it does.
For an FBI agent, real life might include high speeds and guns and terrorist activity. At the Tactical and Emergency Vehicle Operations Center (TEVOC), candidates, the DEA, and other government and military personnel are taught how to maneuver at high speed, how to spot threats with a second’s notice, and how to react effectively. Onsite is the oval road track and off road training is given as well.
Many types of FBI and government personnel are sent to high-risk postings overseas and they might receive more specific training at TEVOC. Awareness of the risks and the sophistication of enemies here and abroad has caused an uptick in the need for curriculum that blends survival training and driving techniques in meaningful ways for many law enforcement groups.
Long after graduation, the Special Agents and the Intelligence Analysts will return to the Academy for fine-tuning and for courses that will keep them updated on the latest techniques and threats. Academy training is considered among the best in the world, so international groups and people in private security work have been trained here as well. In addition, other United States law enforcement groups have participated in training at Quantico as threat levels from all sides have ramped up.
*All photos from the FBI website.
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:
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:
Would you and your family be on board with all of that?
Then here’s what the recruiters and interviewers are looking for:
Still interested? Here’s a little of what to expect:
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:
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
Homeland Security has defined an “active shooter” as someone with a gun engaged in killing or trying to kill people in a confined and populated place.
Most experts agree that there is no one simple solution to the level of violence being aimed at the schools by individual shooters in the USA right now, but most people agree that it has to stop.
While we, the parents and friends and neighbors of the children struck down since the beginning of 2018, as well as elected officials and law enforcement officers, wrangle over what the solution should be, take a look at the ‘stay-as-safe-as-possible’ methods the school children should practice, as suggested by Homeland Security:
Their plan is called: “Run, Hide, Fight,” and includes these strategies:
The ‘Fight’ part has to do with taking down the shooter, but no Elementary or Junior High student I know is capable of doing that, nor are 99% of the High School students or teachers I’ve met.
In many communities, fire drills must be performed twice a month to comply with City or State regulations. During these drills, children are escorted to the exits in an orderly manner – no running – and out designated exits to areas away from the building. Most schools have multiple exits and with several hundred people who must leave in under two minutes (State requirement for speedy evacuation) the teachers and administration take this responsibility seriously. At a well-run school, the end of day dismissal is conducted just as efficiently, but just to the outside door and sidewalks. The busses and cars are waiting at the curbs, and the walkers know where to go.
In the scenario of the active shooter, Homeland Security suggests that the children should always know two ways to get out of the building so they can get out as quickly as possible if needed. Children should leave behind their backpacks and just get out. So that any First Responders on the scene can sort out the good guys from the bad, the evacuating children should keep their hands in the air, leaving the cell phones in their pockets while exiting.
If the children are stuck in the building, they should hide – under desks if that’s the only shelter, or in closets – but, out of the line of sight of the classroom door. They should silence their cell phones, so as not to alert a shooter to the location of more targets.
Plus, if the children are lucky enough to be in a room that has moveable chairs or tables to jam under the doorknobs, they should do that. Please note: most classroom doors do not lock from the inside, and many don’t lock at all.
In this new reality, safety drills might include mock shooter scenarios where students try to remember how many shooters there are, their location, and even a description of their appearance – clothes, hair, shoes, etc. Every piece of accurate information helps in resolving the real-life incidents.
Many States around the country responded to the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 by requiring their schools to increase school security and enact safety drills. In the wake of the Florida shooting (February, 2018) more States are responding to public pressure and taking the step to examine current safety standards and procedures throughout the districts.
Whatever your stance on how to solve this issue, our children should be safe at school. Period.
Please visit www.dhs.gov for more information about the Homeland Security policies and programs.