Inside the FBI Washington Field Office Citizens Academy

FBI Citizens Academy gave FOX 5 a behind-the-scenes look at their operations.

FOX 5 has the only journalist in our nation’s capital participating in the FBI Washington Field Office (WFO) Citizens Academy.

Anchor and Reporter Sierra Fox is taking part in this eye-opening experience and of course, she has been asking lots of question. 

One of which includes, what is the biggest misconception the FBI faces. 

The response she got from Jennifer Runyan, Supervisory Special Agent for the FBI WFO, is that the agency doesn’t entirely function the way it is portrayed in Hollywood films.

"While we are a little bit like TV, and we have the flashy tools and capabilities, the reality is that many of these scenes and the evidence processing that we need and the capabilities to solve the case often don't happen within a 45-minute episode – let alone 24 hours," Runyan explained. 

The WFO Citizens Academy is an engaging six-week program that gives community leaders from a variety of different careers an inside look at the FBI.

Candidates are nominated by FBI employees and ultimately selected by Assistant Director in Charge also known as the ADIC.

Each session is hosted by a different division, including counterintelligence, counterterrorism, and criminal and cyber. The teams explain how they investigate and handle an array of serious threats and attacks.

The mission of the program is to foster a greater understanding of the role of the FBI in society through honest discussions and education.


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The FBI’s National Capital Response Squad is on standby 24/7 and ready to protect the American people from any major crisis events.

Kevin Vorndran is the special agent in charge of the WFO’s Mission Services Division.

"The remarkable part of the specialty teams is the overwhelming time and energy that they put into training to be ready for the most critical incidents that the Washington Field Office and the FBI respond to," Vorndran said.

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To better understand the challenges the FBI faces when dealing with high-pressure situations, they provided an opportunity for Citizens Academy participants to test out their own equipment.

Bomb technicians often put their lives on the line to handle – any real or perceived attacks – like suspicious packages and vehicles that may contain weapons of mass destruction. That’s why technology is often used to safely identify, diagnose, and disrupt suspected or real explosive devices.

All in all, the FBI uses a variety of tools to catch criminals and get those bad guys off the streets.

"These investigations are long-term, complex investigations cutting across national security threats, cyber threats, criminal threats, terrorism threats. And they aren't solved in a night or a week," Vorndran said. "Many times they take persistence and resilience of our workforce to bring these things to prosecution."

While the FBI deals with a lot of classified information that can’t be shared, the Citizens Academy is to provide as much insight as possible to give people a broader perspective about the agency and explain why they do what they do.

The FBI WFO is the second-largest field office in the country. New York City is the biggest out of all 56 field offices in the United States.