The better we know our communities, the better we can protect them. The Community Relations Unit at FBI Headquarters and FBI community outreach specialists in field offices across the country create and strengthen relationships locally and nationally with minority groups, religious and civic organizations, schools, non-profits, and other entities. These partnerships have led to a host of crime prevention programs, enabling families to stay safe from fraudsters and cyber predators, businesses to protect themselves from hackers and economic espionage, schools and workplaces to safeguard against violent rampages and illegal drugs, and all citizens to become alert to potential acts of terror and extremism. Some of our programs include:
Our Citizens Academy programs are engaging six-to-eight-week programs that give business, religious, civic, and community leaders an inside look at the FBI. Classes meet in the evenings at FBI field offices around the country. The mission of the FBI Citizens Academies is to foster a greater understanding of the role of federal law enforcement in the community through frank discussion and education. Candidates are nominated by FBI employees, former Citizens Academy graduates, and community leaders. Participants are selected by the special agent in charge of the local FBI field office. To find out more about an FBI Citizens Academy in your area, contact your local field office.
The Community Awareness Presentation (CAP) is a shorter, more focused version of the FBI Citizens Academy program and is conducted in partnership with a specific community group, generally at an offsite location. The program is designed to build trust and strengthen relationships between the FBI and the communities we serve. Community groups are encouraged to identify topics that are of concern or relevant to their group or organization for the FBI to discuss. Classes are taught by FBI subject matter experts. Generally the participants are selected by members of their organizations or community and there is no restriction on audience size. To request a presentation, please contact your local FBI field office.
Our Teen Academy and Youth Academy programs allow high school and middle school students an opportunity to get a comprehensive look into today’s FBI. Generally, each course iteration is a minimum of eight hours but can be a week-long program with blocks of instruction and demonstrations at a local field office. Students are provided with several presentations on topics including terrorism, cyber crime, public corruption, polygraph exams, evidence response, SWAT, and the day-to-day operations of a typical FBI office. Students also learn from special agents, intelligence analysts, language specialists, and professional staff about investigative tactics that include gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and assisting with cases.
The Junior Special Agent Program aims to provide elementary school students the information, skills, and discipline necessary to stay away from gangs, drugs, and crime. Students also take a course in civics and learn about the FBI and the ways in which law enforcement helps to serve and protect their communities.
The FBI has an awareness campaign to educate the public about the consequences of making hoax threats of violence to schools, events, and other public places. The Think Before You Post campaign serves to remind everyone that any threat is taken with the utmost seriousness and will be quickly and thoroughly addressed by law enforcement. Hoax threats are not a joke; they are a crime.
In the aftermath of tragic shootings like the ones at Santa Fe High School in Texas and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, the FBI and law enforcement agencies around the country often see an increase in threats made to schools, events, and other public buildings. Issuing a threat—even over social media, via text message, or through email—is a federal crime (threatening interstate communications). Those who post or send these threats can receive up to five years in federal prison, or they can face state or local charges.
The FBI, in partnership with the DEA, created a short documentary focusing on the crisis of prescription drug and opioid abuse. The film, Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict, outlines the dangerous cycle of opioid and prescription drug abuse—how the problem starts, how the addiction takes hold, and how that addiction damages one’s life and body. High school students and all ages above are the target audience for this video and the curriculum/facilitated discussion that accompanies it.
The Child ID app—the first mobile application created by the FBI—provides a convenient place to electronically store photos and vital information about your children on your smartphone (note: no information is stored or collected by the FBI). In the event your child goes missing, users can show the pictures and provide physical identifiers such as height and weight to security or police officers on the spot. Using a special tab on the app, users can also quickly and easily e-mail the information to authorities.
The app also includes tips on keeping children safe, as well as specific guidance on what to do in those first few crucial hours after a child goes missing.
The FBI Safe Online Surfing (SOS) Internet Challenge is a free, fun, and informative program that promotes cyber citizenship by educating students in third to eighth grades on the essentials of online security. For teachers, the site provides a ready-made curriculum that meets state and federal internet safety mandates, complete with online testing and a national competition to encourage learning and participation. A secure online system enables teachers to register their schools, manage their classes, automatically grade their students’ exams, and request the test scores.
Anyone—young or old, in the U.S. or worldwide—can complete the activities on the FBI-SOS website. The testing and competition, however, are only open to students in grades 3-8 at public, private, or home schools in the U.S. or its territories.