Opened in 1972 and set on 547 acres of a Marine Corps base, the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, is also known as the “West Point for Law Enforcement”. Situated only 40 miles out of Washington DC, Quantico was first established as a base after special agents were granted the right to carry weapons in 1934 and consequently required training in marksmanship. The Quantico firing range was offered up by the Marine Corps, and not long after, in 1969, construction began to make way for a complex where other FBI training could be undertaken.
About the Academy
When construction was finally finished, Quantico was home to 24 classrooms, a dining room, large auditorium, two dorms, a gym and swimming pool, modern library and a newer firing range. “Hogan’s Alley”, a simulated training town, was added to the complex in 1987, as well as engineering research centres, facilities for the study of behavioral sciences and training areas for hostage rescue teams. Quantico has been under constant development and remained state-of-the-art, with new buildings including a Centre for Intelligence Training built in 2002, and a new labs building in 2003. The Academy now boasts a staff of around 600 people. This includes intelligence analysts and special agents. The Academy is divided into three sections, including new agent and intelligence training and the National Academy.
New Agent Training
For those interested in training as a new agent, the Academy requires a 20-week training period at Quantico. This includes 850 hours of training in four distinct areas. These are:
1. Academia: This is the “book learning” or classroom segment of training, which instructs new agents on bureau operations, relevant law, behavioral science, investigative techniques, interview techniques, counterintelligence, interrogation, forensics, cyber crime, weapons of mass destruction, ethics as well as report writing and computer skills.
2. Case training: This is where new agents are put in mock field situations, simulated in Hogan’s Alley. Here, actors take the place of criminals and terrorists, and new agents learn the process of arrest, from the initial tip off to the final apprehension of suspects. This part of the course also allows agents to present evidence against their suspects in moot court.
3. Operational and firearms training: This is where the firing range comes into play. New agents learn how to shoot all bureau -issued weapons, and in order to qualify for service, must receive a score of 80 or more based on their record of three attempts. New agents will also learn about surveillance operations and safe driving techniques as well as defensive combat skills like grappling, handcuffing, boxing and disarming. New agents are trained using simulation equipment not unlike a video game, which also assesses their ability to make the right decisions in a split second. This part of the training also utilises Hogan’s Alley for simulated kidnappings, bank robberies and assaults on federal officers that trainees must thwart, and pain guns are used in lieu of real weapons.
4. Physical training: To ensure physical fitness, new agents are put through rigorous physical training. During this process, new agents must pass several fitness tests including a times 1.3 mile run and 300 meter sprint respectively, and counted sit ups and push ups.
During the course of their careers, special agents will also return to Quantico on occasion to both refresh their original training and also to take on specialised training.
Quantico also has a division for training intelligence analysts from basic to advanced training courses. After the tragic events of 9/11, the FBI became a highly intelligence driven operation, honing the practice of gaining, analysing and sharing intelligence in order to quash terrorism and other security threats. New agents training specifically in intelligence will continue growth through training throughout their careers, and the curriculum at Quantico include instruction in:
4. Guidelines regarding the FBI’s intelligence mission
The Academy’s divisions don’t exist as mutually exclusive to one another, and training will forge strong relationships between analysts, special agents, all other FBI professionals, and other relevant arms of the intelligence community.
In 1935 the National Academy was created as a centralised means of standardising and professionalizing U.S. law enforcement departments. In the beginning only 23 students took the course, which included techniques for criminal investigation, the use of science in crime solving and administrative techniques including organisation and report preparation. During World War 2, courses were added to respond to the global climate, including espionage and sabotage.
Currently, the Academy proudly trains law enforcement leaders from the U.S. and overseas. The Academy’s goal is to improve standards in law enforcement and increase cooperation between local and global police departments with intelligence organisations. Training is offered by invitation to nominated individuals, who are law-enforcement leaders in their communities, including local police officers and sheriffs from all over the U.S., U.S. territories and 150 partner countries.
The Academy emphasises preparing its trainees for the complex challenges faced by contemporary leaders in intelligence and law enforcement. Using innovative techniques, employing world-class education and research and harnessing a huge network of partners, the Academy offers 250 trainees a ten week course, four times a year. Courses include:
2. Forensic science
3. Behavioral science
6. The terrorist mindset
7. Leadership development
The courses also offer an optional physical fitness test, better known by its nickname “The Yellow Brick Road”, which includes a 6.1 mile run through rough terrain (lowlands, muddy waters, woods, up hills, over walls, avoiding barbed wire and traversing a cargo net). The physical test gets its name from the trainee’s award upon completion: they’re given a yellow brick to commemorate their achievement.
After graduating from the Academy, trainees join the FBI National Academy Associates, which is an organisation of currently more than 15,000 law enforcement professionals. The FBI National Academy Associates’ goal is to improve competency as well as cooperation and ethical behaviour across the globe’s law enforcement community.