JOSEPH REILLY ’18 | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF• Many people are aware that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is the primary law enforcement agency of the United States government. Dean of Students Michael Raters ‘85 got to know the FBI on a more personal level, graduating from the FBI Citizens Academy this fall. The program allows interested individuals to learn about the practices and methods of the FBI and connects the FBI to community leaders. Both the FBI and the participants consider the program immensely valuable.
“The FBI Citizens Academy program is, without a doubt, the most effective tool the FBI utilizes to facilitate dialogue within the community and establish partnerships with those we serve,” Community Outreach Specialist Kathy Sipes said. “It is a tool the FBI uses to educate community leaders on the Bureau’s scope of responsibility and mission, and is open to anyone with the exception of law enforcement and elected officials. The program has been offered in Indiana since 2001, and provides participants with an inside look at Federal law enforcement, in general, and the FBI, in particular.”
Raters considered the benefits he got from the program to be deeper than an increased understanding of the inner workings of the FBI. The classes were on every Tuesday night for three hours over the duration of the program and included a S.W.A.T demonstration day on one Saturday. While many of the participants saw the demonstration day as the highlight of their experience, Raters claimed the Tuesday before as his highlight.
“The first half of that class the Chief Legal Officer talked about what’s a legal shoot, when can you use legal force, and how differs from state or local police policy,” Raters said. “The second half of that class was a shooting simulation.”
Raters described the simulation as quite similar to Duck Hunt, with a gun connected to a television screen portraying him moving through a school as an officer responding to a school shooting. The video was so realistic that Raters said he was “huffing, puffing, and sweating” afterwards. The simulation required him to “stop the threat”, the FBI phrasing for the mindset agents are required to have when encountering a dangerous situation. The Tuesday training was preparation for the S.W.A.T. demonstration the following Saturday, which Raters enjoyed as well.
“I’d never shot any of those guns before, so it was neat to learn it and discover I wasn’t too bad at it.” Raters said.
While discussing aspects of the course that he will bring to campus, Raters emphasized that many FBI practices were similar to the College’s, including a focus on proactive work as opposed to the typical reactive nature of higher education. Furthermore, connecting the counterintelligence side of the FBI with students studying abroad was an additional benefit. The FBI connects with students studying abroad to help them learn how to avoid being forced, through various forms of coercion, to spy on the United States when they return.
While the benefits he found in the program may not be explicitly obvious to students, Raters plans on further incorporating the methods and proactive mindset into the way he functions in his role on campus. By focusing on proactivity, Raters continues to better himself in his position as Dean of Students.