The culmination of all the Citizens’ Academy events was graduation evening. Everyone got all fancied up and met a well-to-do restaurant in Charlotte for dinner and presentations. It was a really nice time and certainly lived up to the standard that was set during the duration of the class in terms of content and added bonuses.
The evening was filled with presentations from the Special Agent in Charge, other folks who helped run the class, and a guest speaker. The guest was a former Agent who is know head of security for the Carolina Panthers. His interesting career spanned undercover work in investigating motorcycle gangs as well as international work while assigned to the Liaison office in London, England. He definitely kept the audience captivated with stories (complete with his own opinions about the cases) about how he had to change his own personal life to live the part of a motorcycle gang member (or someone who was close to them).
A graduation ceremony was held where each of the participants received a fancy FBI Citizens’ Academy duffle bag and a certificate of course completion. Those with perfect attendance got a little something extra to show the staff’s gratitude of us taking the course seriously. We were also handed a CD-ROM full of pictures from the previous weeks of classes including the range day.
It was a great end to a really great program. The FBI went all out to provide a unique learning experience for everyone. While we don’t get any special badges to wear or authority to arrest co-workers (like every thinks I now have!), I did get a true sense of what the FBI does and does not (or can not) do. From the simple knowledge stand point of learning their area of responsibility in investigating federal crime to dispelling myths about tracking all US citizens and treating everyone as a suspected terrorist, every bit of it was 100% professional and very well delivered. I highly recommend the class to anyone who has the luxury of an FBI field office being within a reasonable drive of your home. You’ll learn a lot and not be disappointed. The best way to get into the program (if you don’t know someone who’ll recommend you) is to simply contact your local field office and inquire.