FBI Citizens’ Academy – Week 1 – Part 2

by kriggins on March 29, 2010

in Educational, FBI Citizen's Academy, General

Part 1 is here. The next topics we discussed were Violent Gangs/Criminal Enterprises and Undercover Operations/Profiling.

Gangs/Criminal Enterprise

I was surprised to hear about the amount of gang activity in the Midwest. I knew there was a certain amount, but never did I anticipate that it was as prevalent as it is. The main activity that gangs are invovled in in the Midwest is drug trafficking and distribution although all other criminal activities are represented.

One of the primary tools the FBI uses in combating violent gangs are Safe Streets Task Forces. A Safe Streets Task force is a multi-jurisdictional task force comprised of FBI, state and local law enforcement personnel.

Another great resource is the National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC.) The NGIC is a multi-agency effort that takes information from all over the country and the world and integrates it. It is then available to those agencies and has proved to be a valuable resource for gang information and analytical support.

It was interesting to hear about the tactics they use to compromise these gangs.

Undercover Operations/Profiling

The conversation about Undercover Operations was particularly interesting. A common misconception, one that I operated under, is that every FBI agent can be an undercover agent. This is not true. Here is are some stats on the FBI:

There are currently about 33,000 FBI employees. This includes agents, support staff, intelligence analysts, tech specialists, etc. Of that 33,000ish number, about 13,000 are special agents which you have to be in order to work undercover. Of that 13000, there are only about 1400 agents actively available for undercover work. I use the words about and ish because the actual numbers are confidential.

Now, you might be thinking that it isn't any big deal to get more if they need them. Again, nope. The vetting process for an agent to become undercover approved is a long and arduous one. I won't go into to detail, but let's just say if you managed to have any secrets after your Top Secret clearance check, you won't after this process.

There is also a rigorous ongoing safeguarding process than ensures that undercover agents are still dealing with the almost overwhelming stresses of what they do.

One thing that increases my respect for the people I am meeting with and interacting with is they don't try to sugar coat things. They share both the good things and the things that were not the FBI's proudest moments. For instance, when undercover operations first began in the early 70s, there was little guidance about what was appropriate and what wasn't. As a result, things occurred that shouldn't have. They learned from that and made the program better.

I can't go into much more detail about what we learned, but suffice it to say it was really cool :)

Violent Crimes

The final bit of the evening was used to discuss the Violent Crimes efforts the FBI is involved in. These fall into three categories:

  1. Counter Terrorism
  2. Adult Crimes
  3. Child Protection

They were touched on briefly and we will be talking about them in more depth later in the program.

In Closing

I am really looking forward to this week's session. We will be talking about Cyber Crime, a child focused Internet safety program that the FBI is part of, and White Collar Crime.

Keep tuned in for more!

-Kevin

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