DETROIT – What's it like to be a federal agent, investigating drug crimes, terrorism and human trafficking? Homeland Security Investigations in Detroit gave 13 members of the community a chance to experience what agents do.
Local 4's Koco McAboy got a look inside the first Homeland Security Citizens' Academy.
Portia Lockett was ready for an intense day of training for Homeland Security Investigations, but she isn't a special agent. She is part of the Citizens' Academy learning how HSI agents get the job done.
"I'm just embracing the knowledge so I can pass it on to anyone I come across within the community to say, these ladies and men put their lives on the line every single day for all of us," Lockett said.
She normally directs other people in her job at the Detroit Medical Center, but she spent a night at Selfridge Air National Guard Base taking directions from the HSI Special Response Team.
"I think sometimes people misunderstand law enforcement and they don't see us for being members of the community, like themselves, and we want to show them what our missing is and share with them part of what our day-to-day roles are," said Jared Murphey, assistant special agent in charge and commander of the Special Response Team.
The citizen recruits learn every aspect of the job, from how to suit up to mastering the tactics special agents use to canvass houses looking for criminals.
Members of the group aren't just doing difficult drills. They're also getting one-on-one time with the agents.
"So I love it because we get detailed, juicy stuff that no one else really gets," participant Consuela Barber-Lopez said.
They're also seeing many different kinds of equipment, aircraft and weapons used by agents.
"But then when you're here behind the scenes, watching what they do each and every day, it's, like, 'Whoa! This is amazing,'" Lockett said. "Definitely a new level of respect."
The goal of the academy is to bridge the gap between the community and law enforcement officials.
The Citizens' Academy sessions included a trip to the airport to see drug and surveillance operations, firearms training and a breakdown of how agents handle computer crimes.
Homeland Security Investigations hopes to offer a Citizens' Academy every year to give more people an opportunity to participate.