Today’s FBI: An Inside Look for Criminal Justice Students

A group of 40 students, graduates and staff from ECPI University’s Virginia Beach, Online, Newport News, Richmond Moorefield and Richmond Innsbrook campuses attentively absorbed the FBI’s Community Relations Executive Seminar Training (CREST) at the Virginia Beach campus on June 3. The event was organized with the assistance of the FBI Norfolk Division’s Community Outreach Specialist and Associate Dean of Criminal Justice, Ife Alexander-Caines. The CREST covered topics such as: recruitment, cyber-crime, terrorism, foreign counterintelligence, white collar crime, the FBI’s community outreach programs and the changing face of the FBI.

Vanessa Torres, the Community Outreach/Media Specialist for Norfolk’s FBI, spoke to the group about the Norfolk Division’s Community Outreach Program and some of the FBI’s initiatives. The CREST Program helps adults learn about the mission, goals, history and internal workings of the FBI. Community outreach for the FBI shifted after 9/11 to be more targeted to adults and businesses to raise terrorism awareness. “It is an effort to build trust and collaboration in the community,” said Torres. “The public became the eyes and ears of the FBI.”

Special Agent in Charge, Alex Turner has been with the FBI for 26 years and has experienced the evolving role the agency plays. Today the FBI employs 33,000 people with a presence in every continent around the world. “The FBI is physically in 70 countries covering 200 countries,” explained Turner. “This expansion happened after 9/11.”

The FBI investigates:

•     Counterterrorism
•     Foreign Counterintelligence
•     Cyber Crime
•     Public Corruption
•     Major Thefts/Violent Crimes
•     White Collar Crime
•     Civil Rights

Turner addressed television programs like CSI and Bones and how they do not properly represent the FBI. Jokingly he stated “I’d be taller with more hair” as the room erupted in laughter. The FBI today is threat-based and intelligence driven sharing information across all agencies.

From left to right: Vanessa Torres, Community Outreach/ Media Specialist; Ife Alexander-Caines , Associate Dean of Criminal Justice; Alex Turner, Special Agent in Charge; Melanie Hayes, Administrative Specialist and Willie Session, Assistant Special Agent in Charge.

ECPI University faculty member, Ife Alexander-Caines worked with the FBI to put this program together. “I believe this event makes a positive statement about our university and the community element that exists within the School of Criminal Justice,” said Ife regarding the attendance and support.