Houston, like each of the FBI’s local field offices, has a community outreach program that complements and strengthens our many efforts to protect you, your businesses, and your families in concrete ways through a range of activities and initiatives.
The Houston office is a strong contributor to community partnerships because, as a federal agency with national and international reach, we bring our own special resources, intelligence, and expertise to the table. For example:
Our investigations into terrorism, cyber crime, gangs, drug trafficking, civil rights violations, fugitives, and other crimes—often worked in tandem with local police, sheriffs, and other law enforcement partners—keep us on the leading edge of knowing the dangers that threaten your community.
Our partnerships with area companies and institutions protect locally against economic espionage and acts of terrorism.
Our assistance to crime victims in the Houston Division area provides a lifeline to those who have been harmed by violence and crime.
Our research of crime statistics spotlights crime trends and incidents in your geographical location.
Our research and expertise in special areas helps defend against specific community issues like missing and exploited children, school shootings, and violence in the workplace.
In the end, it’s all about people-to-people contacts.
The Houston Community Outreach Program works to put a human face on the FBI and to further strengthen relationships, including by:
Meeting with local educators, minority groups, and organizations to talk about what the FBI can do with them and for them;
Participating in “Red Ribbon Week,” which educates kids and adults alike on the dangers of drugs and alcohol and encourages them to wear red ribbons as a sign of their commitment to stay drug free;
Participating in “National Night Out”;
Presenting information about current frauds affecting our community at the Houston “Scam Jam”’;
Distributing Child ID fingerprint kits at community events in coordination with the National Child Identification program; and
For the last two years, joining with Ameri-Corp volunteers to provide staffing to operate summer camps for children of parents who have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. The program is normally two weeks long, with classes on leadership, ethics, problem solving, and physical fitness.
Among our other ongoing efforts:
Adopt a School Program
Every school year, Houston Division employees participate in a collaborative community outreach initiative with I Have A Dream® - Houston. Volunteer FBI employees participate in various after-school mentoring activities with an assigned “Dream Partner,” serve as chaperones on field trips, and give presentations on topics such as anger management, Internet safety, and career choices. In addition, special agents and support employees teach a four-week course for 5th grade students, who then have the privilege of becoming “Junior Special Agents.”
FBI Houston Citizens’ Academy
One method to engage the community pioneered by the FBI and adopted by law enforcement agencies around the country is called the Citizens’ Academy. Held once a year in Houston, the Citizens’ Academy gives community leaders, business professional, religious partners, and other citizens an inside look at the FBI and its operations. The program is approximately 10 weeks long, with mandatory attendance of one night a week for three hours. Participants meet the men and women of the FBI, gain an appreciation for the job they do, and often become lifelong friends of the Bureau. They are also invited to attend the FBI range and qualify with a weapon.
The list of those who wish to attend the Citizen’s Academy is long, and the selection process is highly competitive. The Houston special agent in charge chooses participants from a list of individuals nominated by FBI supervisors and Citizens’ Academy alumni. After being selected, candidates must pass a thorough background check. Then, they receive an invitation letter from special agent in charge and are asked to sign a pledge to complete the course. It is important to note that the Citizens’ Academy is not a special agent’s training class.
After completing the Citizens’ Academy program, participants are invited to join the Houston Citizen’s Academy Alumni, currently some 550 strong. These alumni are active in community-related projects such as hosting a 100-Year Anniversary celebration for all FBI employees, providing support for victims of Hurricane Ike, and sponsoring many other projects to improve the quality of life for our employees. This year, the alumni launched a new program called Quarterly Special Topic Night, working with the community outreach specialist to bring in subject matter expects on current events such as human trafficking, pirating on the high seas, and other topics to share with alumni members.
Graduates of Citizens’ Academies are also given the opportunity to stay informed on law enforcement issues; to meet with incoming Citizens’ Academy classes; to schedule FBI Houston Speakers’ Bureau presentations for their organizations, civic clubs, or associations; and to attend specialized seminars on current issues.
Community Relations Executive Seminar Training (CREST)
Another opportunity for citizens to learn about the work of the FBI is the CREST (Community Relations Executive Seminar Training) program. While the Citizen’s Academy is spread over 10 weeks, CREST is a more focused, in-depth perspective on the mission of the FBI. It is a one-day or 8-to-10 hour discussion by subject matter expects on a specific topic. The program can be tailored to particular interests such as cyber crime, identity theft, public corruption, terrorism, human trafficking, and violent crime. For example, if you are a member of the banking industry, you may want us to talk about money laundering, bank robberies, and the security of your facility.
What makes CREST unique is that we come to you—you provide the facility and we provide the instructors. Background checks are not needed; while some information may be sensitive, it is not classified and on a “need to know” basis.
In Houston, we usually offer two CREST programs each year. To request the training, please send a request to the Houston special agent in charge.
Community Outreach to Ethnic and Minority Groups
The FBI has always been a defender of civil rights, and in Houston we are proud of our partnerships with ethnic and cultural groups in the area. The special agent in charge has an “open door” policy with any ethnic or cultural group that would like to come and discuss issues that cannot be resolved local and state level. These are just a few organizations that we have built partnerships with:
The Anti-Defamation League
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC);
The Gulen Institute;
The Raindrop Turkish House;
The South Asian Chamber of Commerce; and
The Islamic Society of Greater Houston
Director’s Community Leadership Award
Our most recent recipient was Stephen Gartrell. Mr. Gartrell designs and hosts websites that educate the public about crime and terrorism.