In 2008 that the DEA's Los Angeles Field Division developed an innovative Citizens Academy. The DEA made contact with a select group of community individuals -- bringing together those in occupations ranging from federal, state and local government, to law enforcement, private security, religious leadership, education, the law, finance, the media, those running small businesses, as well as people employed or volunteering in many other aspects of local life.
Through the Citizens Academy, DEA leaders and specialists (from both the LA Field Division and DEA Headquarters in Washington, DC) taught us about the DEA's tough work and vital mission in the fight against illegal drugs -- not only in America, but all around the world. There were field trips to lab settings as well as to ranges where the DEA's special agents train. We were encouraged to take part in simulated raids--and those really gave us the sensation of the split-second decisions DEA Special Agents face in the field. Each of us came away from the multi-week program with a strong knowledge of how the DEA does its job and how we, as private citizens, can help the agency make a difference.
We're proud the DEA's Los Angeles Field Division has now graduated numerous Citizens Academy classes. Many graduates have become active in the Citizens Academy Alumni Association. This is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Donations are always welcome, and are used to fund our drug education and community outreach programs. The Alumni Association not an official part of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Rather it stands on its own in partnering with the DEA in the multi-faced fight to reduce the demand for both illegal narcotics and in public awareness of the acute dangers in the sharp increase in prescription drug abuse.
From ethnic fairs to community celebrations, we make our presence and message felt at dozens of events each year. Whether it's providing important printed materials, answering serious questions from adults, or just pinning a ribbon on a child, we contribute to expanding the mission and the message of the DEA. Members of the Citizens Academy Alumni Association also travel to schools, churches and community halls. We've brought together students, police officers and federal drug agents to foster positive inter-personal relationships. Discussions often involve aware of the severe impact both drug cartels and narcotics-trafficking local gangs can have on local schools and communities. Half the battle can be awareness.
Members of the Alumni Association have also traveled to headquarters in Washington for briefings by DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart, visited the DEA’s national museum, and visited the DEA’s National Academy for additional education.