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FBI Jacksonville Field Office Hosts Citizens Academy

FBI Jacksonville Field Office Hosts Citizens Academy


The clock was counting down as he strapped on the 80-pound protective bomb suit. He’d never done anything like this before, but the feeling of urgency led his actions in a logical order as he looked over the wiring coming from two pipe bombs strapped to his classmate’s vest. She held a pressure trigger and the slightest release of grip would mean a very abrupt ending to the situation for both of them. As the seconds remaining moved from double digits to single, the tension in the room rose. FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE… nothing… just a few snickers from the audience. The pipe bombs were empty. The danger was simulated as part of a bomb-diffusing exercise for 35 members of the local community participating in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2013 Jacksonville Field Office Citizens Academy.

Over a period of five weeks, local community leaders came together from their various backgrounds to learn how the FBI works. The course was part of a community outreach program the Bureau hosts each year throughout the nation’s 56 field offices. Attendees learned firsthand from special agents and professional support personnel about the types of cases the FBI investigates, forensic examination capabilities, evidence collection and preservation techniques, and firearms training.

Michelle S. Klimt, special agent in charge for the Jacksonville Field Office, said the program is great for dispelling some of the mystery that surrounds the FBI.

“It allows us to clearly communicate the FBI’s mission to leaders involved in the community,” she said. “They learn what we do and don’t do and get an opportunity to see who we are from the inside.”

That education she said also helps the FBI stay better attuned to the needs and issues of the community. For one Citizens Academy graduate, the experience gave him a greater appreciation of the job the Bureau does.

“These guys are the best in the world at what they do,” he said. “It’s necessary if we are going to live safely in the 21st century.”

- More information about FBI Citizens Academies