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Living Out the FBI Dream-An Inside Glimpse Into the FBI Citizen's Academy

Living Out the Dream-An Inside Glimpse Into the FBI Citizen's Academy

My dream as a young whipper-snapper in Chicago was to be an FBI agent. I even majored in accounting knowing that accountants have always been at the top of the Bureau’s wish list, plus it was the bean counters that put away Al Capone, along with Sean Connery and Kevin Costner, right? I had the grades, youth on my side, the definite desire and a clean background. But the reality of relocation, travel and long hours when I was planning on starting a family didn’t seem right at the time. Then one day I was 37 years old—the cutoff age for applying to be an agent.

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Fast forward 20+ years after graduation: I’m now in California, Director of Forensic and Valuation Services at Lindquist, and I receive an invitation to apply for the 2015 San Francisco FBI Citizen’s Academy! From hundreds of applications, the Bureau selects 20 individuals qualified as business, religious, civic, media or community leaders to attend a six-week program at the FBI headquarters in San Francisco. I was certainly humbled to be in the same room week after week with my fellow academy-mates: an anti-terrorism professor from Berkeley, the head of physical security at Google, a Catholic bishop, a bio-chemist and Silicon Valley cyber experts. They were all accomplished men and women with very impressive resumes.

By participating in the Citizens Academy and learning about what really happens daily within the FBI through experience, our mission statement became “not only aid in demystifying the work of the FBI, but also help forge new working relationships in the community.”

Each week, we focused on a different area of FBI operations, taught by the special agents in charge of the fields of expertise including anti-terrorism, cyber-crime, ERT (emergency response team, a.k.a., Crime Scene Investigation) and, of course, fraud and white-collar crime investigations!! We saw file information and learned first-hand from the special agents involved in the cases of Patty Hearst, Lacey Petersen and the Uni-Bomber.

The grand finale was the opportunity to spend a day at the FBI’s Northern California weapons and training facility and to learn about the individuals and tools used in the protection of our country. Meeting and seeing the people and faces behind the FBI was enlightening as well as comforting, knowing responsible people are serving our nation with pride. They are everyday people that live next door and coach your kids’ soccer team…they aren’t superheroes (well, they still are to me). Even David J. (‘DJ”) Johnson, the then-special-agent in-charge of San Francisco (recently promoted and now in Washington, DC) is a down-to-earth great guy who is also loved by those that serve under him. As it turns out, he lives just down the road from me and we’ve probably bumped carts at Trader Joe’s in the past.

What an experience of a lifetime – to find out that I could be a part of our country’s justice department and law enforcement’s vision for the future. And as I bonded with the FBI SWAT team and snipers, soaked in the experience, and reveled in the moment that last day at the range, it just felt the like the right time—“So, DJ, when are you going to help me lobby for a temporary lift on the special agent age restriction?!” I had to ask…

Author: Richard C. Gordon, CPA/ABV/CFF, CFE, CGMA, Director of Forensic and Valuation Services

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