FBI Citizens’ Academy – Week 5

by kriggins on April 26, 2010

in Educational, FBI Citizen's Academy, General

This week was arguably the week that everybody was most excited about. This week we had the opportunity to fire a few of the weapons the FBI uses. We also took turns using the F.A.T.S. (FireArms Training Simulator.) Before we got to play with the toys though, we had a introduction to the Department of Justice's Use of Deadly Force Policy Statement which was very interesting.

Use of Deadly Force

The FBI falls under the Department of Justice's Use of Deadly Force Policy Statement. You can read the entire statement here. While the entire statement is very important, the guts of it are:

I. Permissible Uses. Law enforcement officers and correctional officers of the Department of Justice may use deadly force only when necessary, that is, when the officer has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.

If you read the rest of the statement, you will find that there are further limitations and rules for the use of deadly force. However, the heart of the statement is in the words "imminent danger of death or serious physical injury."

A couple of interesting things about that word imminent in the context of this statement:

  1. Imminent does not mean immediate. This means that the risk of death or injury can be a risk that is at some point in the future.
  2. Imminent is solely at the discretion of the agent.

Another interesting fact is that there can be multiple deadly force policy statements in force at the same time as different jurisdictions have different deadly force policies.

In addition to discussions about the policy statement, we talked about what happens when deadly force is used. I learned a number of interesting tidbits:

  1. A review is held in every case. However, the agent remains on duty and continues to carry a weapon. His weapon is, of course, entered into evidence, but he is provided with another immediately.
  2. A criminal investigation is performed in the local jurisdiction where the use occurred. This has to be disconcerting to say the least.

We also talked about what happens to the human body and senses in times of high stress. Several interesting statistics were shared. If you are interested in seeing some of the, check out this Wikipedia article. The human mind does some strange things under these circumstances.

After this talk, we learned a bit about the SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams.


Each FBI field office has a SWAT team. In most cases the duties are in addition to regular agent duties. It is only in the larger offices where dedicated SWAT teams exist. There is also a dedicated hostage rescue team. There are over 1200 SWAT agents that can be rolled out if needed.

The SWAT guys were the ones who ran the rest of our evening.

A few facts about the FBI and weapons:

  • Each agent is required to qualify with their service weapon four times per year.
  • The standard side arm is a Glock .40 Caliber.
  • The standard SWAT weapon in the MP-5.
  • An FBI agent can and often goes their entire career without having to draw, let alone fire, their weapon. However, they are well trained and prepared to do so if necessary.


The first thing we experienced after our introduction to SWAT and the safety lecture was a live fire demonstration of a room entry.

This was very very cool. The SWAT team "breached" the room (range), used a flash bang and then let loose on the the targets on the range.

If you have never experienced a flash bang, which I had not, it is quite an experience. Even with ear protection the sound was very load. You could actually feel the thump in your chest. I was somewhat prepared for it going off and I still just about jumped out of my skin 🙂

After the demonstration, it was time to split up, half went to use the FATS and the other stayed on the range to fire the weapons.

The Range

I was in the first group on the range. We had the opportunity to fire the .40 caliber Glock, a .38 and an MP-5. I shot quite a bit as a youth, including automatic weapons, and was happy that those skills came back quickly. It was a lot of fun shooting and the SWAT guys were fantastic.

While firing the MP-5 was a lot of fun, I have always been partial to semi-automatic pistols. I enjoyed firing the Glock the most.

After our time on the range we went to take our turn using the FATS.


Using the FATS was an interesting experience as a participant and as a viewer. Even though it is a simulated experience, it is amazing how your body and mind reacts as you are in the scenarios. This is true even after you have watched others go through scenarios.

Your perceptions change and you experience things is a very different way than in your everyday life. That is why they use these trainers, to help agents become comfortable or at least aware of what their bodies and minds will do in they are ever in a situation where they must react with their weapons.

This was a really fun evening and fully lived up to the expectations I had for it.


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