DRNet Response to the
Drug Enforcement Administration
The DEA has aggressively developed a comprehensive training program that reflects the diversity and sophistication of the agency's complex mission. The Office of Training includes training curriculums on Basic Agents, Clandestine Laboratories, State & Local Police, Mobile Enforcement Teams, International Issues, and In-Service Training.
The goals and objectives of the Office of Training are to support the DEA's federal drug law enforcement mission by developing and administering a comprehensive training program for all DEA employees, as well as for other drug law enforcement officials, including foreign drug control officers. Since the DEA moved its training program in 1985 from Glynco, Georgia, training has been conducted at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
Upon taking office in 1994, DEA Administrator Thomas A. Constantine requested a review of DEA's training program to ensure that state-of-the-art procedures and techniques were being provided in all DEA training. The goal was to have every DEA employee fully trained and prepared to operate successfully in the ever-changing environment of drug law enforcement.
Since that time, an impressive training program has been developed for all DEA personnel. The agency has now instituted a training curriculum that provides employees with the most up-to-date skills available to minimize risk and yet be effective in pursuit of the criminal element.
Several key initiatives have been undertaken to provide our employees with the tools to meet the challenges they face on a daily basis.
First, the entry level courses for Basic Agents, Diversion Investigators, Intelligence Research Specialists, and Chemists have recently been strengthened to devote more time to legal issues, integrity and personal responsibility. Specifically, the basic agent training course has been extended to 16 weeks, and integrity and personal responsibility instruction has been increased from 2 to 25 hours.
Second was the creation of the Field Training Agent Program to provide continuous training and direction to probationary Agents after completion of Basic Agent Training. The ultimate objective is to ensure that only those probationary Agents who demonstrate dedication, integrity, and the ability to perform at an acceptable level are retained.
Third was the development of a 1-week orientation program for all support employees to give them a broader understanding of the mission and functions of the DEA, in addition to instruction on integrity and personal responsibility.
Fourth was the creation of a program that specifies essential training requirements at different intervals in an employee's career. For example, individuals selected for supervisory assignments will immediately be scheduled to attend supervisory training courses.
The training program for DEA employees can be described as consisting of the following major categories:
A new 1-week in-service training course has been developed that will be provided to all core series employees every 18 months. This training will be delivered by instructors from Headquarters and the Office of Training at a central location. The program stresses fundamental areas such as a review of internal regulations, oral and written communication skills, legal issues, case law, operational and tactical procedures, integrity, and personnel issues such as sexual harassment.
A Training Advisory Committee was established to assess the current training curriculum and increase field input into specific training programs. This committee will convene biannually with representatives from various job series from across the country.
DEA's Basic Agent program is designed to equip the entry level agent with the skills and abilities needed for the unique requirements of worldwide drug law enforcement. This 16-week training program consists of academic, tactical, practical, firearms and legal instruction.
Throughout the program, the training modules are delivered in a programmed sequence, so that each practical exercise builds upon previous classroom instruction.
Basic Agent Training
Basic Agents receive extensive training in all facets of drug law enforcement operations, from the hazards of undercover work, through the financial manipulations associated with money laundering, to the legal intricacies inherent in conspiracy law.
For example, Basic Agents receive more than 80 hours of legal instruction, including a chance to be cross examined by defense attorneys to simulate courtroom pressure. This allows the Basic Agents to become familiarized with courtroom procedures. In moot court, the students are video taped while being cross examined, then critiqued.
Three major examinations are given and a 70-percent average is required to become a DEA Special Agent.
Ethics and Integrity Training
In an effort to addresses a critical dimension of law enforcement training, the DEA has structured formal ethics and integrity sessions into its basic training programs, as well as the in-service training courses. To accomplish this, the program emphasizes the positive aspects of integrity and police ethics.
Basic Agents get 25 hours of ethics training strategically dispersed throughout the course. Several basic agents described it as "life training" because it instills a decision-making value system applicable throughout one's entire life.
The DEA has developed several Ethical Awareness Workshops for basic agents as part of their training. These workshops equip new employees with the moral tools needed to successfully tackle ethical dilemmas, and with clear guidance on DEA policies.
Field Training Agent Program
The DEA has developed the Field Training Agent Program which pairs a senior agent with a recently graduated basic agent for a formalized 26 week period. This program was developed to provide continuous on-the-job training to new Special Agents following completion of their structured training at Quantico.
During this time, a new agent is eased into field work while completing a 3-phase transition period with the assistance of a senior agent. In the beginning, the probationary agent will follow the actions of a senior agent. During the course of the probationary period, the new agent will gain hands-on experience in the duties of a Special Agent, and be evaluated on his/her ability to perform the duties required of a Special Agent.
Senior Agents complete performance evaluations throughout the 26-week period which, if satisfactory, complete the basic agent's probationary period.
During their stay at Quantico, each Basic Agent meets their Field Training Agent, who is brought in for a 1-week course on the DEA's Field Training Agent Program. During this course, the Field Training Agent is briefed on the latest techniques being taught in the Basic Agent Program.
This program assists the Basic Agent in the transition from the academy to the field, and ensures a true partnership between experienced DEA Special Agents and new DEA Special Agents.
Clandestine Laboratory Training
Among the life-threatening chemical hazards faced by an ill-trained individual who tampers with clandestine laboratory equipment are unexpected encounters with hydrochloric acid fumes, explosive red phosphorous, and exposure to toxic narcotic or hallucinogenic drugs.
Prior to 1987, this scenario could have resulted in serious injury or death. The DEA has taken steps to reduce the risks associated with this type of operation.
Even after illicit drug manufacturers are removed from the streets, their ability to harm others remainsin the form of a chemical `time bomb.' Consequently, the DEA has spent the past decade devising techniques to safely disarm such potential disasters.
In order to ensure the safety of law enforcement personnel, as well as the general public, the DEA developed the Clandestine Laboratory Investigation/Safety Certification program.
Designed to minimize the danger involved in seizing and dismantling clandestine laboratories (clan labs), the program continues to evolve, and in the past 5 years has expanded to provide training to state and local police officials.
The extensive training fully complies with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certification guidelines, and is required of all DEA and DEA State/Local Task Force personnel involved in on-site clan lab investigations.
The DEA offers three clan lab courses that address the specific needs of federal, state and local agencies.
The basic training course offered to DEA employees is the Clandestine Laboratory Investigation/Safety School (CLIS). The hands-on training provided to the Basic Agents is divided into a pair of 1-week courses on both laboratory investigations and chemical safety.
The State & Local Safety Certification School (SALC), an abbreviated form of the CLIS, is offered to other law enforcement agencies.
The most advanced course, the Clandestine Laboratory Team/Site Safety Officer School, is only offered to personnel who've completed CLIS.
In addition, trainees are taught the procedural differences between traditional drug investigations and clan lab investigations. During this time, the agent becomes familiar with the nearly $3,000 worth of Personal Protective Equipment that must be worn when dismantling a clan lab.
A portion of the training concentrates on safety as required by OSHA. In compliance with the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response guidelines, participants are informed of the hazards they are likely to encounter, and given the necessary means to counter such risks; most of this training is provided by certified industrial hygienists.
Students typically receive 60 to 80 hours of training. The first three days consist mostly of classroom instruction. Thereafter, participants are given hands-on training during which they assemble, investigate, and dismantle mock laboratories; these mock-ups are often designed to mimic highly volatile methamphetamine labs.
Practical training, coupled with closely monitored simulations, concludes the course curriculum. The certified students are now prepared to face a wide variety of laboratory situations with confidence.
Upon completion of CLIS, Agents are eligible to enroll in the Clandestine Laboratory Team/Site Safety Officer School, which entitles them to be the Site Safety Officer at a clan lab, and to be a Divisional Safety Officer. This advanced course lasts 1 week and is open to roughly 30 DEA Special Agents and Task Force Officers per session.
Due to the serious safety implications that clan lab operations entail, the enormous value of proper training cannot be over stated. Because the DEA works with so many state and local partners, proper training in clan lab methods is essential. Consequently, the DEA has offered training to state and local law enforcement agencies.
For the benefit of state & local law enforcement officials, the DEA conducts clan lab training seminars. For example, the most recent seminar, which brought together officials from around the country, was held in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The SALC program extends DEA clandestine lab training to include members of non-federal agencies who deal with drug manufacturing laboratories on a regular basis. Because they are funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the frequency of these training sessions depends largely upon the amount of grants specifically allocated for clan lab training.
To date, the DEA's clan lab training program has certified 2,575 DEA and state and local officials. Moreover, since the inception of the Clandestine Laboratory Investigation/Safety Course in 1987, there have been no DEA employees seriously injured or killed in a clan lab investigation.
Training International Training
The International Training Section (TRI) consists of 16 Special Agent Instructors and 6 support personnel. It is located at Camp Upshur, Quantico, Virginia. From this base of operation, three teams of instructors travel the world, providing drug law enforcement training to our foreign police counterparts.
The program has three primary functions: first, to enhance the capability of our foreign police drug enforcement counterparts; second, to further the concept of international cooperation; and third, to enhance the DEA's international working relationships.
Almost fully funded by the U. S. Department of State and the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Fund, this program is the vehicle through which the DEA provides quality drug law enforcement training to its foreign counterparts. Since 1969, the DEA and its predecessor agencies have trained more than 33,000 officers in over 130 countries. During 1996, the international training teams delivered 46 training programs to approximately 2,700 foreign law enforcement officers in 110 countries.
Until recently, most of TRI's training programs have been focused on Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. However, following the recent breakup of the former Soviet Union and the emergence of democratic governments in Eastern Europe, the DEA has played a significant role in the improved relationship between these nations and the United States.
Meanwhile, the increasing drug problems and organized crime activities in many countries have led to numerous requests for police training by the DEA and other U.S. agencies. For example, 1994 saw a 46 percent increase in TRI training commitments, almost all of which were directed at the Newly Independent States and emerging Eastern European Democracies.
In the past 2 years, TRI has conducted drug seminars in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Kazahkstan, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Croatia and Hungary. In addition, TRI is a key participant in the newly established International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest, which is now providing mid-level law enforcement management training to former East Bloc police forces.
To ensure that new technologies and improved investigative techniques are continuously incorporated into its training program, TRI annually collaborates with the Office of International Operations, DEA Country Offices, and the State Department. This process also factors in changes in trafficking trends, enforcement programs, and geopolitical points of reference.
Due to the training dynamics associated with increasingly available technological advancements, the DEA's foreign counterparts constantly need updated training to complement their increasing sophistication.
State & Local Training
The DEA provides drug law enforcement training to state and local law enforcement officers in a number of areas. The 2-week Basic Narcotics School continues to be the DEA's flagship program that prepares newly assigned officers for drug investigations. This school is conducted in all 50 states by the Divisional Training Coordinators (DTC).
During 1994, the DEA conducted 63 such schools and trained 2,700 police officers around the country. These schools have been accredited by the American Council of Education, and students are eligible to receive up to four semester hours of college credits upon successful completion.
Other priority programs conducted in the field for state and local officers include training in asset forfeiture, clandestine laboratory investigations, cannabis eradication, and drug interdiction. DTCs also responded to hundreds of requests from state and local police agencies for drug training programs and briefings on drug trends.
The 2-week Drug Unit Commander Academy is designed for first-line supervisors of state/local drug enforcement units or narcotics task forces. During 1995, the Office of Training conducted two schools for 40 state/local candidates.
The DEA Office of Training, in cooperation with the National Drug Enforcement Officers Association (NDEOA), provides drug law enforcement training during annual NDEOA conferences. NDEOA members are full-time law enforcement officers and graduates of DEA training programs, or other accredited training programs in drug law enforcement approved by the NDEOA. NDEOA conferences are held in various cities throughout the country.
Asset Forfeiture Seminar
This course is presented several times a year in selected countries where money laundering and suspicious bank activity is prevalent.
Topics such as asset forfeiture procedures, asset sharing, and money laundering are presented to classes predominantly comprised of police officers and prosecutors.
Instruction is provided by the DEA, Department of Justice legal staff, U.S. Customs, and U.S. Marshals Service among others.
The course is funded by Department of Justice, and is designed to increase the international capability to track and seize assets, stressing the importance of international cooperation.
Methods of Instruction
TRI presents this seminar to foreign police counterparts involved in police training in their respective countries.
By assisting foreign police to improve their own drug training resources, the course concentrates on improving presentation skills and developing effective courses of drug law enforcement instruction. It has been presented in Ecuador, Mexico, Guatemala, and Russia.
TRI is also utilizing outstanding graduates of this course as instructors to augment the program. For example, a Colombian graduate of the seminar in Ecuador gave instruction in a recent Drug Enforcement Seminar in Bogota, Colombia.
This course trains foreign drug officers in techniques used successfully and legally in the United States to identify and intercept couriers of drugs or money traveling on domestic and international flights.
It involves classroom discussions and practical application at principal airports. The instruction has been so effective that on several occasions, students have actually seized drugs or money during these exercises.
International Narcotics Enforcement Management Seminar
This 4-week seminar is held three times a year, usually in the Washington, D.C., area. Participants are drug law enforcement police managers from all over the world seeking the latest advances in drug law enforcement, particularly from a managerial point of view.
The men and women of TRI are dedicated to bringing professional training to foreign counterparts worldwide. Each year, they travel thousands of miles, averaging 35 weeks on travel, to present training courses and seminars. Their commitment and professionalism are the reasons that the program is recognized by the Department of State and embassies worldwide as one of the best law enforcement training programs that the U. S. Government has to offer.
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