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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. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) End of Year Report 2014. (page 13) Under the current system many local registering agencies are challenged just keeping up with registration paperwork. It takes an hour or more to process each registrant, the majority of whom are low risk offenders. As a result law enforcement cannot monitor higher risk offenders more intensively in the community due to the sheer numbers on the registry. Some of the consequences of lengthy and unnecessary registration requirements actually destabilize the life’s of registrants and those -such as families- whose lives are often substantially impacted. Such consequences are thought to raise levels of known risk factors while providing no discernible benefit in terms of community safety. The full report is available online at. http://www.casomb.org/index.cfm?pid=231 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs United States of America. The overall conclusion is that Megan’s law has had no demonstrated effect on sexual offenses in New Jersey, calling into question the justification for start-up and operational costs. Megan’s Law has had no effect on time to first rearrest for known sex offenders and has not reduced sexual reoffending. Neither has it had an impact on the type of sexual reoffense or first-time sexual offense. The study also found that the law had not reduced the number of victims of sexual offenses. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/app/publications/abstract.aspx? ID=247350 The University of Chicago Press for The Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago and The University of Chicago Law School Article DOI: 10.1086/658483 Conclusion. The data in these three data sets do not strongly support the effectiveness of sex offender registries. The national panel data do not show a significant decrease in the rate of rape or the arrest rate for sexual abuse after implementation of a registry via the Internet. The BJS data that tracked individual sex offenders after their release in 1994 did not show that registration had a significantly negative effect on recidivism. And the D.C. crime data do not show that knowing the location of sex offenders by census block can help protect the locations of sexual abuse. This pattern of noneffectiveness across the data sets does not support the conclusion that sex offender registries are successful in meeting their objectives of increasing public safety and lowering recidivism rates. The full report is available online at. http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/658483 These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of conclusions and reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. People, including the media and other organizations should not rely on and reiterate the statements and opinions of the legislators or other people as to the need for these laws because of the high recidivism rates and the high risk offenders pose to the public which simply is not true and is pure hyperbole and fiction. They should rely on facts and data collected and submitted in reports from the leading authorities and credible experts in the fields such as the following. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 0.8% (page 30) The full report is available online at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Adult_Research_Branch/Research_Documents/2014_Outcome_Evaluation_Report_7-6-2015.pdf California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) (page 38) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 1.8% The full report is available online at. http://www.google.com/url?sa= t&source=web&cd=1&ved= 0CCEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F% 2Fwww.cdcr.ca.gov%2FAdult_ Research_Branch%2FResearch_ documents%2FOutcome_ evaluation_Report_2013.pdf&ei= C9dSVePNF8HfoATX-IBo&usg=AFQjCNE9I6ueHz-o2mZUnuxLPTyiRdjDsQ Bureau of Justice Statistics 5 PERCENT OF SEX OFFENDERS REARRESTED FOR ANOTHER SEX CRIME WITHIN 3 YEARS OF PRISON RELEASE WASHINGTON, D.C. Within 3 years following their 1994 state prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The full report is available online at. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/rsorp94pr.cfm Document title; A Model of Static and Dynamic Sex Offender Risk Assessment Author: Robert J. McGrath, Michael P. Lasher, Georgia F. Cumming Document No.: 236217 Date Received: October 2011 Award Number: 2008-DD-BX-0013 Findings: Study of 759 adult male offenders under community supervision Re-arrest rate: 4.6% after 3-year follow-up The sexual re-offense rates for the 746 released in 2005 are much lower than what many in the public have been led to expect or believe. These low re-offense rates appear to contradict a conventional wisdom that sex offenders have very high sexual re-offense rates. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/236217.pdf Document Title: SEX OFFENDER SENTENCING IN WASHINGTON STATE: RECIDIVISM RATES BY: Washington State Institute For Public Policy. A study of 4,091 sex offenders either released from prison or community supervision form 1994 to 1998 and examined for 5 years Findings: Sex Crime Recidivism Rate: 2.7% Link to Report: http://www.oncefallen.com/files/Washington_SO_Recid_2005.pdf Document Title: Indiana’s Recidivism Rates Decline for Third Consecutive Year BY: Indiana Department of Correction 2009. The recidivism rate for sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%, one of the lowest in the nation. In a time when sex offenders continue to face additional post-release requirements that often result in their return to prison for violating technical rules such as registration and residency restrictions, the instances of sex offenders returning to prison due to the commitment of a new sex crime is extremely low. Findings: sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05% Link to Report: http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/RecidivismRelease.pdf Once again, These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. No one can doubt that child sexual abuse is traumatic and devastating. The question is not whether the state has an interest in preventing such harm, but whether current laws are effective in doing so. Megan’s law is a failure and is destroying families and their children’s lives and is costing tax payers millions upon millions of dollars. The following is just one example of the estimated cost just to implement SORNA which many states refused to do. From Justice Policy Institute. Estimated cost to implement SORNA Here are some of the estimates made in 2009 expressed in 2014 current dollars: California, $66M; Florida, $34M; Illinois, $24M; New York, $35M; Pennsylvania, $22M; Texas, $44M. In 2014 dollars, Virginia’s estimate for implementation was $14M, and the annual operating cost after that would be $10M. For the US, the total is $547M. That’s over half a billion dollars – every year – for something that doesn’t work. http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/08-08_FAC_SORNACosts_JJ.pdf. Attempting to use under-reporting to justify the existence of the registry is another myth, or a lie. This is another form of misinformation perpetrated by those who either have a fiduciary interest in continuing the unconstitutional treatment of a disfavored group or are seeking to justify their need for punishment for people who have already paid for their crime by loss of their freedom through incarceration and are now attempting to reenter society as honest citizens. When this information is placed into the public’s attention by naive media then you have to wonder if the media also falls into one of these two groups that are not truly interested in reporting the truth. Both of these groups of people that have that type of mentality can be classified as vigilantes, bullies, or sociopaths, and are responsible for the destruction of our constitutional values and the erosion of personal freedoms in this country. I think the media or other organizations need to do a in depth investigation into the false assumptions and false data that has been used to further these laws and to research all the collateral damages being caused by these laws and the unconstitutional injustices that are occurring across the country. They should include these injustices in their report so the public can be better informed on what is truly happening in this country on this subject. Thank you for your time.

  2. Freedom as granted in the Constitution cannot be summarily disallowed without Due Process. Unable to to to the gym, church, bowling alley? What is this 1984 level nonsense? Congrats to Brian for having the courage to say that this was enough! and Congrats to the ACLU on the win!

  3. America's hyper-phobia about convicted sex offenders must end! Politicians must stop pandering to knee-jerk public hysteria. And the public needs to learn the facts. Research by the California Sex Offender Management Board as shown a recidivism rate for convicted sex offenders of less than 1%. Less than 1%! Furthermore, research shows that by year 17 after their conviction, a convicted sex offender is no more likely to commit a new sex offense than any other member of the public. Put away your torches and pitchforks. Get the facts. Stop hysteria.

  4. He was convicted 23 years ago. How old was he then? He probably was a juvenile. People do stupid things, especially before their brain is fully developed. Why are we continuing to punish him in 2016? If he hasn't re-offended by now, it's very, very unlikely he ever will. He paid for his mistake sufficiently. Let him live his life in peace.

  5. This year, Notre Dame actually enrolled an equal amount of male and female students.

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