They are three letters that usually cause pulses to race and brows to sweat, especially if you're on the wrong side of the law. We are talking about the FBI.
Since 2005, the Jackson division has hosted an outreach program called the Citizens' Academy and I am a proud member of the fall class of 2011.
Twice a year, people from all walk's of life, are selected to participate in the FBI Citizens' Academy.
Daniel McMullen is Special-Agent-in-Charge of the Jackson division.
SAC McMullen said the FBI looks to Citizens' Academy graduates to be ambassadors for the agency.
"We have community leaders, business, religious, civic and so on, who have the opportunity to learn more about our organization, what we do, why we do it and how we do it and to take that message out to the public and help us educate the public because an educated public is our best weapon to deal with threats that are out there," SAC McMullen said.
The first weeks are spent touring the new state-of-the-art facility at Echelon Parkway and in the classroom; but hands down, it is the outing at the firing range that is most popular.
We became familiar; up close and personal, with a variety of high-powered weaponry, just a few of the tools used by agents to keep us safe from threats to our safety and well-being.
I have to admit it was fun firing these guns, especially when I hit the target in the right place!
But it's no fun for the men and women who have to wear the heavy body armor and use these weapons in real life situations.
"More to it than those guys wearing blue and gray suits and the sunglasses," said LeGrand Elliot, Citizens' Academy member. "They really are a part of our lives everyday, more so than we know and they take pride in the work and they're committed."
SAC McMullen said the most common misconception participants have when they begin the Citizens' Academy is that the FBI takes over a crime scene. Not true.
"And it's important for the public to know that law enforcement at the state, local and federal level work together where they have shared interest in investigative matters," McMullen said.
It is a point not lost on Pearl Mayor and Citizens' Academy member Brad Rogers.
"Being with the City of Pearl, you know, I know a lot about local law enforcement but it's been real interesting to see how local law enforcement ties in with the federal side of law enforcement, also," said Mayor Rogers. "Been a very good experience."
"The FBI is definitely much more transparent and the folks that work in the FBI are your neighbors," SAC McMullen said.
The six week academy culminates with a graduation ceremony, 6:00pm Thursday evening at the Hilton Garden Inn, King Edward Hotel in downtown Jackson.
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