CHARLESTON, NC -- The FLETC-Charleston Training Division recently ran a pilot of the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) Officer Training Program from Feb. 20 -22, 2019. The FDNS Officer Training Program is a three-day, FLETC-taught program specifically created for Immigration Officers within FDNS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), in which officers conduct residential and/or workplace site visits as a regular part of their jobs. Unbeknownst to some, USCIS is not a law enforcement agency, therefore none of its FDNS Immigration Officers carry a weapon for protection when conducting these site visits. Many of these officers have expressed concerns about their safety, having to travel to unsafe locations to investigate allegations of marriage and labor fraud, and being put in potentially dangerous situations.
FDNS leadership reached out to FLETC-Charleston to try to address some of their officers’ safety concerns. While FLETC did not have an “off-the-shelf” training program for non-law enforcement officers ready to go, instructors from the Charleston Training Division knew that they could design a program tailored to the specific needs of FDNS. Working in consultation with FDNS staff, FLETC–Charleston created a program that focused on situational awareness, conflict management, and de-escalation techniques that could be used during site visits. FLETC also provided a block of training on defensive driving techniques and another on controlled tactics. The techniques taught during these training sessions were not meant to make the officer the aggressor in the situation, rather the purpose was to provide techniques to protect oneself so that the officer could create enough space and time to safely egress. The final day of training was the culmination of taking the skills and techniques learned in the classroom and mat room during the first two days of the course, and putting them to use in a real world setting with training scenarios intended to test the students’ situational awareness, decision-making, and actions in response to a variety of situations.
The pilot was conducted with 22 seasoned FDNS Immigration Officers as students. At the end of the program, many of the students commented how they wish this program would have been offered when they first started with FDNS because they learned a lot of useful tools that they can employ during their site visits to enhance their safety. The feedback from students was so positive that FDNS is looking at the feasibility of extending the program from three days to five days.
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