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ICE HSI Seattle partners with community leaders, graduates inaugural Citizens Academy

SEATTLE – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Seattle office graduated the first HSI Citizens Academy, Oct. 30.

“The Citizens Academy was a great opportunity for us to pull back the curtain and demystify what it is we do, how we do it and most importantly why we do it,” said Eben Roberts, acting special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. HSI is a critical investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security and is a vital law enforcement asset in combating complex criminal organizations. “It’s my hope that our dedicated volunteer agents were able to convey the importance of that mission to participants over the last seven weeks.”

The graduating members consisted of professionals from Fortune 500 companies, the banking industry, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and a variety of small businesses. 

“The HSI Citizens Academy was my fifth such academy,” said Jenifer Clark, local information security and compliance engineer.  “I cannot emphasize enough the importance and value of learning about and seeing our community through the eyes of law enforcement professionals. These programs are so unique in the way they give citizens a chance to see the bigger picture and get more information than what may be included in a small news clip.”

The Citizens Academy included classroom instruction and practical, real-world exercises, similar to those which agents experience in training. Each week, a different investigative group presented an agenda and scenario for the academy.  Participants also experienced firearms training, defensive tactics instruction and a presentation by a canine narcotics detection team. 

“In my biased opinion, HSI is the best kept secret in law enforcement,” said Roberts. “We’re very passionate about the work we do on the public’s behalf, and we look forward to a continued relationship with all of those involved.”

Interested community members applied and underwent a limited background check prior to being selected to participate.  HSI Seattle is grateful for the community’s interest in the program and look forward to providing similar classes in the near future.

“I would recommend participating in HSI’s Citizens Academy without hesitation, said Clark. “HSI agents work hard protecting our community and I have come to believe, as citizens, it is our responsibility to be engaged in our community. The agents made us feel very welcome and the hands on experience was interactive and fun!”

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