July 18, 2016

Salt Lake City Field Office Graduates New Junior Special Agents

Salt Lake City Junior Special Agents take the oath of office.

Sha-Mel Bennett is only 9 years old, but he’s already thinking about his future.

He wants to be an FBI special agent. “That’s always been my dream since I was like, 3 or 4,” Bennett said.

On July 15, Bennett got a taste of that dream.

He was one of 26 kids who spent the day at the FBI Salt Lake City Field Office getting an inside look at the Bureau and learning about the duties of a special agent.

“We get to investigate, we get to protect people. We do a lot of things,” Bennett said when asked why he wanted to work for the FBI.

The group started the morning with a fit test and obstacle course, learning about teamwork and team building.

With the help of the Evidence Response Team, they solved a crime involving stolen cookies, and they tested gear with the SWAT team.

“You could see their excitement. They didn’t want to miss anything,” said Training and Civil Liaison Specialist Melinda Nakai, who helped with the event. “They had a really good time."

Salt Lake City Junior Special Agents explore a SWAT vehicle.
Salt Lake City Junior Special Agents try on SWAT gear.

The kids also spent time in the classroom talking about the qualities and values that make a good FBI agent.

“Be confident,” one student said.

Another said, “Be respectful.”

“We want them to learn about the FBI. We want them to know the law is good,” said Capt. Anie Trimmer, corps officer of the Salt Lake City Salvation Army.

Trimmer runs the Salvation Army Youth Day Camp, which she said fills a big need for many families in the Salt Lake community during the summer months.

“Parents go to work; there’s nothing for their children to do; they can’t afford child care,” Trimmer said.

For $35 a week, the camp provides activities and meals for the kids.

“If they can’t afford it, we won’t turn them away,” Trimmer said.

Salt Lake City Junior Special Agents solve a crime with ERT.

A big part of the camp is weekly field trips.

Last December, Community Outreach Specialist Melissa Adams invited Trimmer and the kids to visit the FBI.

“It’s just rewarding; it’s a positive program for kids to see behind the scenes of what the FBI does,” Adams said. “It gives them a positive perspective of law enforcement.”

Trimmer said when Adams extended the invite, it was a no-brainer.

“They were really excited to come to the FBI. They see the FBI shows all the time,” Trimmer said.

At the end of the day, Special Agent in Charge Eric Barnhart presented all the kids with badges and credentials and they graduated as Jr. Special Agents in Training.

Trimmer said programs like this have a positive impact on children.

“Maybe one of these days, one of these kids will become an FBI agent and say it was because of the Salvation Army Day Camp taking us on the FBI on a field trip,” she said.