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Insider's look at FBI

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To continue to improve community relations, the Indianapolis office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has expanded its Citizens’ Academy programs. Sessions in Indianapolis as well as northwest and northeast Indiana, and day-long programs for organizations around the state, offer individuals the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the federal law enforcement agency.

marisol sanchez Sanchez

“We are targeting non-law enforcement individuals and are specifically seeking top business/minority/religious/civic leaders who are active within the community and may benefit from an insider’s look at the FBI. From the nominees received, a class of 30 will be selected. All applicants will have to undergo a limited background investigation,” Kathy Sipes, FBI community outreach specialist, wrote in an e-mail seeking applicants.

The program consists of eight evening courses that include discussion from FBI experts on a variety of topics including terrorism, foreign counterintelligence, violent crimes, organized crime, drugs, civil rights, and white-collar crime. Also included is a “range day” where participants have the opportunity to see a SWAT team demonstration and shoot FBI-issued guns with FBI arms instructors.

During the 2010 class, participants learned not only what the FBI does, but how and why. The agents discuss how they train agents on legal issues so they do not violate anyone’s civil rights.

Legal issues are also addressed during a session on deadly force. Following that discussion, participants can use a firearms training simulator that displays various scenarios on a large screen. It’s up to the individual to decide if or when to shoot.

Following these scenarios, which include a carjacking in a parking garage, a kidnapping, a drug bust, and a woman who uses martial arts against the officer to get his or her gun, an FBI agent will show which shots hit a target. The agent will explain what went right or wrong in the scenarios.

Following the session last fall, agents noted that the participants took the activity very seriously and ultimately walked away with a better understanding of what actually happens in these situations in real life.

marisol sanchez Irving

There was also a memorable session that included the story of a woman whose children were abducted and taken to her home country in Africa. In that situation, the woman worked with a family law attorney, as well as the FBI and others, to ultimately reunite with her children a few years after their father took them away.

At the end of the eight-session program, participants meet with the agents at a reception and receive plaques for their commitments.

Each spring, participants from the previous fall class in Indianapolis have an opportunity to travel with a group of other Citizens’ Academy alumni to the FBI training facility in Quantico, Va., and FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. In early March, a group from Indiana, including three attorneys and other community leaders from around the state, traveled east for this experience that gave participants an expanded, behind-the-scenes look at what the FBI does.

At Quantico, visitors saw Hogan’s Alley, a mini-town with various types of housing, hotels, a used car lot, business fronts, and even a movie theater where FBI agents interact with actors in various real-world scenarios. Participants also visited the Tactical and Emergency Vehicle Operations Center where agents learn how to react to scenarios involving automobiles.

In a warehouse setting, participants marveled at the number of windowless white doors that agents will eventually break through during SWAT trainings. Visitors walked through a portion of an airplane to see many paintball-like splatters from past training exercises.

Participants were fascinated by their conversations with FBI laboratory and criminal behavioral science experts and the descriptions of their jobs in Quantico. They explained the differences between the dramatized versions of these jobs as seen on television and in movies, and how long it actually takes for them to do their research.

At FBI headquarters, experts discussed national security when it comes to chemical and biological warfare and the role of legal attachés who work with foreign countries through U.S. embassies.

Charles Dunlap, executive director of the Indiana Bar Foundation, was among those who traveled to Washington, D.C., in early March. He was in the fall 2010 class in Indianapolis.

After last fall’s Citizens’ Academy, he said, “I came away with a lot of respect for the broad array of things that the FBI does as well as the dedication and professionalism that the members of the FBI have to their work. … I was extremely impressed with the work that the FBI Academy does and how much new special agents have to learn before they graduate.

FBI quantico Alumni of FBI Citizens’ Academy classes in Indiana traveled to Washington, D.C., March 2 to 3, including a visit to various FBI training facilities at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., March 2. (Provided photo)

“The focus on doing their work inside the limitations of the Constitution and individual rights was also something that, as an attorney, made an impact on me,” he continued. “Sometimes you have preconceived notions about police agencies and their level of respect for civil liberties and the various individual protections in our Constitution and laws, but I was certainly very pleased to see how serious the FBI was about (how much) they stress what is legal and acceptable in our society under the rule of law. In my mind, that respect and adherence to the limitations they face as a law enforcement agency under our constitutional and legal system only served to increase my level of respect and support for their work and the people who work to keep our society safe every day.”

Another attorney on the trip, Marisol Sanchez of Bose McKinney & Evans in Indianapolis, also enjoyed her experience. She was in the Indianapolis class in 2007 after her husband, attorney Rafael Sanchez of Bingham McHale, participated in the fall 2006 Citizens’ Academy in Indianapolis.

“I wanted to be more educated on what the FBI does and how we as citizens can assist the FBI in carrying out its duties,” she said. “I also believe it is a great organization in which to be involved as an attorney because there are different aspects of the FBI and the role it plays that may intersect with my path as an attorney. … It was such a great and fun experience that connected me to so many people and as an alumnus, it continues to do so. The trip was the icing on the cake and brought to full circle and into perspective what we had learned about through the academy. I highly recommend this to anyone.”

Chuck Dunlap Dunlap

A third attorney on this trip, Shontrai Irving, a corporate attorney with State Farm Insurance Litigation in Crown Point, also enjoyed his time in Washington, D.C. He participated in a Citizens’ Academy class in Merrillville in spring 2008.

Organizations that would like to host a shorter version of Citizens’ Academy, known as the FBI Community Relations Executive Seminar Training, or CREST, can work with Sipes to set up a session. Minimum number of participants is 25.

CREST event planners can choose two or three of the following topics: counterterrorism, foreign counterintelligence, cyber crime, public corruption, major thefts/violent crimes, white collar crime program, civil rights, and recruitment and hiring.

Applications, resumes, and cover letters for the fall 2011 Citizens’ Academy program, which will take place Tuesday evenings Sept. 6 through Oct. 25 in downtown Indianapolis, are due April 15. For more information or for an application, contact Sipes at 317-321-6119, or Kathryn.sipes@ic.fbi.gov.

Reporter Rebecca Berfanger participated in the FBI Citizens’ Academy in Indianapolis in September and October 2010. She traveled with a group of Citizens’ Academy alumni to Washington, D.C., March 2 - 3. That group included Irving, Sanchez, and Dunlap.•

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  1. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  2. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  3. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  4. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  5. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

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