Sample Essay on FBI Training vs. Paramilitary Training

FBI Training vs. Paramilitary Training

Many law enforcement agencies train their agents in the necessary processes and procedures involved in the protection and enforcement of the law to ensure adherence to laid down procedure and proper law enforcement. Depending on the agency, however, the training received for each of the law enforcement agencies are specifically designed to train the agents in what will become the agents’ lifelong careers. The training received by the agents of the law enforcement agencies are a reflection of the expectations of these agencies on their agents. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is one of the law enforcement agencies that takes pride in the training of their agents to be the excellent agents that they have been known to be. The vigor and care given to the training of the FBI agents are unrivaled, and most of the agents take pride in the training at Quantico, Virginia (Vizzard, 2008). Given the eventual career requirements, FBI training curricula largely differ from para-militarism, the characteristic training offered to police officers in police training academies. The differences in the type and duration of the training between the two (FBI training and police training) therefore lies in the work exigencies between the two, as well as the areas of jurisdiction eventually manned by the two law enforcement agencies. Despite these differences, there are similarities in the training of the two law enforcement agencies. The purpose of this paper thus is to compare and contrast the training method ideologies of FBI and para-militarism.

Shrouded in secrecy, most of the FBI work remains closed to public scrutiny and comprehensive scholarly access. The agency largely works in the areas of counterintelligence and counterterrorism and includes divisions that deal with criminal investigation as well as multiple services functions that aim at supporting local police (Vizzard, 2008). To be able to maintain such high levels of secrecy, rigorous training is necessary for the agent, some of whom even after retiring, leaving or firing from the agency, remain secretive about the activities and operations of the agency.

The main FBI training facility is located at Quantico in Virginia. This facility has the responsibility of training FBI agents and analysts. The facility also acts as a training ground for law enforcement leaders from across the globe (Ragusa, 2013). Further, the facility is also grounds for physical training, under a ten-week fitness program for law enforcement officers. With a long history spanning several decades, the national training at FBI teaches its students in national and international law. The purpose of the training is to improve the police administration of justice, in addition to raising the standards of law enforcement both nationally and internationally (Ragusa, 2013).

The police academy, like the FBI also offer training to its candidates. Over the past few decades, the type of quasi-military training in police academies has changed to include defensive tactics, shooting and the mechanics of arrest (Chappell, 2008). According to Chappell (2008), previous police officers did not receive any form of formal training.During this period, most officers underwent informal recruitment and largely learned the ropes of their job while working. Moreover, there was little screening, and the responsibility of training was a prerogative of the well-seasoned officers in the field (Chappell, 2008).

This form of informal training bred corruption within the police ranks, instigating the need for reforms towards theformal training of the police force.  The reforms introduced abasic quasi-military type of training for the police officers (Chappell, 2008). Even with these reforms, the types of training for the officers varied widely, were, and still are dependent on the agency, state, and budget available for the training facilities. Even with the new form of formal quasi-military training, Chappell (2008) intimates that the officers are poorly prepared for their work.

The quasi-military training has raised concerns among stakeholders and the community over the quality of cadets produced by the training facilities. The ramifications of a mediocre system, according to Caro (2011), include increased civil litigation, a low opinion of the agency by the public as well as decreased community trust in the agency. The low public opinion is further catastrophic as it leads to decrease public cooperation with the agency, a factor that therefore calls for change in the agency’s training to a more comprehensive type of training (Carless, 2006).

In looking at the types of training at the FBI and the quasi-military training offered in police academies and other agencies, many similarities and differences come to fore. The similarities and differences are present as a consideration of the eventual type of work that each of the graduating trainees will perform with their training. The similarities, therefore, underscore the base of the two types of training whose focus is on law enforcement, while the differences are a reflection of the divergence in procedures, methods and the demands of the jobs that each of the candidates will perform with his/her training (Chappell, 2008).

Both the FBI and quasi-military training have a great focus on physical fitness, given the rigor of the jobs involved in law enforcement. Under physical fitness training, recruits in both FBI and quasi-military work with health and fitness instructors who ensure that the recruits pass the physical tests before they proceed to other forms of training (Ragusa, 2013). Thus, physical fitness not only takes a large portion of training for the recruits, but it is also among the most essential of the training for the recruits. Additionally, for both pieces of training, physical fitness is vigorous and involves different measures and parameters of physical fitness. According to Ragusa (2013), physical fitness for the two first involves the measurement of the heart rate, blood pressure as well as circumference measurements. The quality of movement among the recruits is also assessed in addition to muscle endurance as an assessment of the recruits’ aerobic power.

Marion (2008) argues for the importance of physical training in FBI and quasi-military training. She states that physical fitness training minimizes the chances of injury to the recruits in their jobs. Furthermore, with proper physical conditioning, many of the recruits can perform their work effectively, making the recruits effective and productive in their job performance. Even more is that a physically fit agent or officer has the advantage of portraying a positive image for and to the public (Marion, 2008). By knowing that the agents and officers are physically attuned, the public can rest easy knowing that the officers will perform their work as required. Further, Marion (2008) argues that given that most of the FBI agent and officers are usually partnered, having a physically fit partner makes the work easier, as the agent or officer will be capable of helping his or her partner. Conclusively, physical fitness has numerous benefits in cardiovascular wellness, strength, and psychological well-being.

The nature of the FBI and officers that receive paramilitary training is such that at one point, they have to deal with adversaries, sometimes armed. Firearm- training is, therefore, a necessity for both agencies. The training involves learning how to fire a firearm, and learn not only how to fire the weapon, but also how to be comfortable with the weapon (Knapik et al., 2011; Marion, 2008). Firearm training for both the FBI and para-military training also involves lessons on when and when not to use firearms. The agents and recruits learn that not every situation requires the use of firearms, and that there is a possibility of capturing the subject without the use of brutal force (Knapik et al., 2011; Marion, 2008).

Most of the firearm training had previously been done on a firing range. Critics of this type of training, however, argued that such training is unrealistic, as not always will agents and officers encounter an unmoving subject. Moreover, the critics argued, such training had little, if any, areflection of real life behavior of subjects on the street (Knapik et al., 2011; Marion, 2008). For this reason, firearm training has evolved to include simulations of real life situations. Such simulations replicate as near real life situations as possible, providing agents and cadets with hands-on experience on firearm use. Moreover, the training also further develops the ability to use judgment and skill through computer-projected images and scenarios, training the agents and cadets on when and when not to use deadly force (Marion, 2008).

Aside from firearm use, both agents and cadets also receive training on self-defense. Self-defense training, in this case, targets unarmed defense strategies, particularly for those with partial knowledge in fighting. Also, self-defense training for the agents and cadets includes knowledge on pressure points such as the Infra-Orbital, Mandibular and Hypoglossal regions (Knapik et al., 2011; Marion, 2008).

It is apparent that in their line of work, agents and cadets have to deal with colleagues and the public. Communication is, therefore, an essential element of the training. The need for effective communication and interpersonal skills, therefore, necessitates communication training for agents and cadets (Knapik et al., 2011; Marion, 2008). The purpose of training in communication skills is to facilitate proper communication between the law enforcement personnel and the public, with other law enforcement agencies and among themselves. Moreover, given that both agents and cadets are involved in investigations, communication skills help in the extraction of information from victims, witnesses or suspected perpetrators of a crime.

A stark difference between the FBI training and the paramilitary training is the centralization of the training. While the national FBI training facility has its base at MCB Quantico in Virginia (Knapik et al., 2011; Ragusa, 2013), paramilitary training is dependent on the agency offering it. Police academies, for example,are run by the state or local departments and provide regional-based training. Additionally, different agencies offer agency-specific paramilitary training such as the army, navy, and air force, and may not necessarily have a common training base for all the training operations. Centralization of the FBI training ensures that all the agents are conversant with the operations of the agency, its operations and training protocol. This makes it easy for them to communicate seamlessly regardless of the location of an agent at whichever place. FBI training, therefore, extends to the agency staff and well as field agents, making it easier for the staff to coordinate operations with the field agents.

Although the FBI and paramilitary training both insist on physical fitness as part of making an all-round agent/cadet, the manner in which the physical fitness training is conducted tends to differ. According to Knapik et al. (2011), “most new agents are expected to perform physical fitness training on theirown” (p. 1).This is distinctly different from the paramilitary training where physical fitness training is a group activity. Because paramilitary training insists on discipline and respect for authority, physical training, as well as other forms of training, are structured and performed in groups. The purpose of such grouping is to create uniformity and training on the respect for authority.

There is a lot of emphasis on physical fitness for both FBI and military training. The focus of paramilitary training is usually on marksmanship, self-defense, and defensive tactics (Caro, 2011; Chappel, 2008). Regardless of the joint training operations that may be present at a training facility, the training orientation eventually focuses on a singular service for the recruits. On the other hand, apart from physical training, FBI agents under training spend “considerable time in the classroom involved in lectures and on-line training on law enforcement topic and investigative techniques” (Knapik et al., 2011, p. 2). While this training is standard to all FBI agents, only a specified group of people undergoes such intensive mental training among the paramilitary training agencies.

As stated, most paramilitary training offers basic training in defense and firearm handling. After this, most of these recruits go to the field where they are attached to a field training officer (FTO). It is the responsibility of the field training officer to allow the cadet the opportunity to apply and use the theoretical knowledge acquired at the training facility (academy for police officers) to real life instances (Caro, 2011). The FTO additionally acts as a mentor to the cadet, monitoring every move of the cadet and reporting on the progress of the cadet. FBI training, on the other hand, is comprehensive. While seasoned agents monitor the new agents, the new agent has considerable freedom to make decisions, relating the classroom training with real life scenarios. The high level of independence given to the agents is to make them aware of their environment and enable them to adjust to the environment accordingly. Moreover, while most paramilitary graduates, especially police officers, are deployed within the state or local precincts, graduates from Quantico have the potential for posting anywhere in the nation or in the world, and still operate flawlessly with other agents.

The duration of the training further advances the differences between paramilitary and FBI training. Knapik et al. (2011) inform that the FBI training at Quantico lasts 21 weeks. Most paramilitary training such as the New Jersey State Police Division lasts 22 weeks, a week longer than the FBI training. Within the 22 weeks, recruits are drilled on the aforementioned skills. Discipline takes a center stage in the training to ensure respect for authority, with additional work assignments as well as punishment for unbecoming behavior (Marion, 2008). The FBI training, on the other hand, aims at inspiring the recruits to become better agents through the remarkable training offered. The agency’s (FBI) training division constantly aspires to offer the best and most credible training to the agents in criminal justice.

The training in paramilitary training facilities is usually a preserve of the recruits selected, and in some other cases volunteers, for the training. These undergo the training according to agency curriculum (Caro, 2011; Chappell, 2008). FBI training, in contrast, has programs for police departments. The police department administrators normally undergo an 11-week program on law enforcement as well as other multidisciplinary programs. Agents, therefore, have a wider base of knowledge and sense of independence in their work in comparison to paramilitary trainees, whose training focus is on defensive tactics and a little in law enforcement.

Given the differences in occupational demands between paramilitary and FBI agents, the type of training broadly reflects this difference.  FBI work is mostly methodical while paramilitary trainees such as police officers need to respond to house calls as well as act fast in suspect apprehension. The paramilitary training is thus mostly physical and on quick action on impulse (Caro, 2011; Chappell, 2008). The FBI training oppositely, focuses on behavior science, equipping agents with the knowledge and skill to identify suspects by the study of the suspect’s body language, behavior, and mannerism. Additionally, FBI training equips agents with crime scene investigation knowledge to identify, document, and analyze evidence from a crime scene to help in the apprehension of a suspect.

Law enforcement agencies offer training to their agents to equip them with the requisite skills and knowledge to perform their duties effectively. These skills and knowledge are additionally important for the maintenance of law and order within the community. Worth mentioning, however, is the fact that each law enforcement agency has its training techniques in preparing its agents for their work as law enforcers. The FBI is among the agencies that provide training to its agents, staff, and special agents. Given the demands of the agents’ work, they receive special training that differs from paramilitary training. Among these differences, include the duration, focus of the training, centralization of the training and the selection process. Even in their differences, FBI and paramilitary training have some similarities apart from their focus in as preparing law enforcers. These include anemphasis on physical fitness, firearm handling, and self-defense training. Despite the differences, both FBI and paramilitary training aim at producing the best law enforcers to prevent crime and ensure the rule of law in the community.


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