Yesterday my friend, David, and I “graduated” from the FBI Citizen’s Academy, after seven weeks of classes at the FBI building here in Portland. Overall, the experience was pretty different from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Citizen Academy I was in during the fall. Although it originally was a little less hands-on and a bit more formal lecture style, yesterday was also “range day” where we met out at Camp Bonneville to watch the bomb techs blow stuff up, and get the chance to shoot some guns on the range.
It was cool to tour the range area (not more than a few miles from where I grew up) and see a lot of the FBI training facility. It started with a presentation from the Evidence Response Team, and I was immediately putting together my next science lesson as they were showing us a lot of their evidence collection tools. Then we met with the bomb techs and detonated several different kinds of bombs. While I assumed blowing up a bomb would be fun, I didn’t realize how exhilarating it would be to literally feel the bombs resonate through me from 100 yards away.
Finally, we shot some guns. This is something I have little experience doing, but if you’ve followed my blog for awhile you know I’ve had some obstacles in learning to “properly” shoot a handgun. Although we didn’t get a whole lot of time to shoot, we did get to try three different types of guns.
Finally, we had our graduation lunch where we were presented with certificates and got to talk more personally with the agents who hosted the academy.
So where do I go from here? I did the math and we have devoted approximately 70 hours since September to these Citizen Academies. I learned a lot, and met some really interesting people from the community. On one hand, I feel more vulnerable now that I know how many criminals are out there preying on people (even more than my paranoid mind originally thought); but on the other hand I feel much safer that these experienced and educated people are out there. I’ve also done my part to spread what I have learned and advocate for both the Sheriff’s Department and FBI in any conversation where the topic arises.
David and I have both decided to join the FBI Citizen Academy Alumni network where there are events almost every month, even with a possible trip to visit Quantico in August. (Frankly, I can’t wait to be the one to bring snacks for the next academy). While I know many other bucket lists out there are like “Skydive in the Amazon,” I think my bucket list items have been much more rewarding because I didn’t just take a risk, but I went out of my way to become a better citizen.