Houston Prepares to Embark on its 6th Annual Citizens Academy
In October 2014, the Houston Division Office held its first inaugural DEA Citizens Academy. The concept behind the first Houston Citizens Academy was to open and further expand relations between DEA and community leaders, with the goal of providing local citizens with a comprehensive overview of DEA. Additionally, efforts were focused on providing students a means in which community entities can partner with DEA in combating drug abuse and misuse. Conversely, after realizing the success of the 2014 Citizens Academy and moreover the positive feedback from class participants, DEA Houston Division senior management quickly realized the significance of this outreach program. As a result of its continued success, the Houston DEA Citizens Academy is now embarking on its sixth consecutive year.
Since the inception of this program, an estimated 109 community members from the Houston metropolitan area have successfully graduated from the program. In 2015, a group of graduates independently created the DEA Houston Citizens Academy Alumni Association. Today the Alumni Association remains very active in volunteering in several DEA Houston community outreach programs that include the Teen Academy, Red Ribbon week, national prescription pill take back events and community drug awareness day.
The academy is held one night a week for eight consecutive weeks. During the eight week program, selected participants receive instruction on a broad range of topics and areas of responsibility for the DEA. Students receive an overview in areas such as legal authority (Title 21), Texas/Mexico border operations, Drug Trafficking trends, gangs, pharmaceuticals, clandestine labs, demand reduction, the History of Red Ribbon, technical operations and an overview on surveillance operations. Students further receive a tour of the Houston DEA office with a special stop at the Wall of Honor.
One additional highlight of the academy is a day at the gun range for firearms and raid training. At the range, students shoot a variety of weapons to include pistols, rifles and shotguns. Further, students take part in a block of instruction covering tactical entries and learn how a dwelling is safely secured. While at the range students engage in a “shoot off” to determine the Top Guns of the class.
Participants of the DEA Citizens Academy are selected based on their qualifications and their ability to pass a background investigation.