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The Jacksonville Citizens’ Academy

The Jacksonville Citizens’ Academy

Want to find out first hand how the FBI works? Hear how the Bureau tracks down spies and terrorists? Learn how to collect and preserve evidence? See what it is like to fire a weapon and put yourself in the shoes of a special agent making a split-second, life-or-death decision?

The Citizens’ Academy is a stimulating program that gives business, religious, civic, and community leaders an inside look at the FBI. During the Academy, students participate in firearms demonstrations; solve practical problems involving the collection and preservation of physical evidence; gain insight into the structure and operation of an FBI field office and resident agency; obtain an overview of the legal basis for the FBI’s jurisdiction and issues relating to congressional oversight; and learn about the services the FBI provides to local and state law enforcement agencies.

The Academy curriculum and teaching methods are similar to the traditional methods used at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, but the weekly sessions are not designed to make the participants an FBI special agent. Launched in 1999 and held once a year, the Jacksonville Citizens’ Academy has been a tremendous success, fostering a greater understanding of the role of the FBI through frank discussion and education.

Who attends? Business, civic, religious, and community leaders in the Jacksonville Division’s territory.

Who teaches? The division’s special agent in charge and senior managers and special agents.

How long is the class and how many attend? Classes are held on six to 10 consecutive Tuesday evenings. Each session has around 20-30 students.

Who nominates candidates to participate in the Citizens’ Academy Program? FBI employees, Citizens’ Academy graduates, and community leaders. Interested attendees may “self-nominate” themselves by providing information to the field office community outreach specialist. Please note: Your name will be added to our list of division nominees and the Citizens’ Academy Alumni. This list is quite long, and we are unable to tell you exactly if and when you will be selected to attend the program.

To be a candidate for the FBI Citizens' Academy, you must:

  • Live and work within the Jacksonville Division’s territory;
  • Be at least 21 years of age;
  • Have no prior felony or serious misdemeanor convictions;
  • Consent to a background investigation sufficient to justify an interim security clearance (because classified techniques used in criminal and national security cases are discussed); and
  • Have an active interest and involvement in community affairs and issues.

How does the FBI and the community benefit from the Citizens’ Academy program? Many ways. The program creates:

  • New channels to educate local citizens about federal law enforcement issues and challenges;
  • New contacts in diverse communities;
  • A voice within the communities we serve;
  • Better community understanding of the structure and operation of a FBI field office and resident agency; and
  • The opportunity for the FBI to interact and share information with business, civic, religious, and community leaders.

The Citizens' Academy Alumni Association

The Jacksonville Division Citizens' Academy Alumni Association was established in February 2008 and includes previous Jacksonville Citizens' Academy graduates. Alumni stay informed about Bureau operations and issues and work together on initiatives that make America a safer place. Jacksonville’s alumni are provided updates by FBI personnel and participate in Citizens’ Academy classes and Graduation Day at the range. The Jacksonville alumni also help the FBI with its outreach efforts.

The Jacksonville Division Citizens' Academy Alumni is a member of the National Citizens’ Academy Alumni Association ( NCAAA), a network of alumni associations from around the country. The NCAAA has three main goals: 1) to help provide resources, training, and "best practices" to Citizens' Academies around the country; 2) to help graduates keep in touch with one another and the Bureau after they graduate; and 3) to enable alumni associations to share ideas and information with one another.