SAC Tampa graduates new Citizens' Academy

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TAMPA, Fla. – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tampa Special Agent in Charge (SAC) office graduated the first HSI Tampa Citizens’ Academy.

“The HSI Tampa Citizens’ Academy students put in a tremendous amount of time and energy into our program and we worked hard to make it worthwhile for them,” said HSI Tampa SAC James C. Spero. “It is vital that community leaders understand not just how law enforcement operates, but why we operate the way we do.

The graduating members are Phoebe Nicholson, Enterprise Holdings, Inc,; Tania Fernandez, Congresswoman Kathy Castor’s office; Reginald Roundtree, WTSP News; Sorle Stanley Diih, University of Tampa; Raymond Joseph Croze, City of Clearwater Police Department; Suzanne Celeste Preston, St. Petersburg College; Roxanne Chance-Chin, Servisbank; Michael Vanhorenbeck, Vanhorenbeck Financial Group; Lynn Guyton, Office of the Attorney General; Janine Nolan, Jefferson Bank of Florida; Michael Covington Bagge, U.S. Attorney’s Office; Andrew Hall, AT&T; Jim Preston, U.S. Attorney’s Office and Angela Clooney, WTSP news.

“The HSI Tampa Citizens’ Academy gave me new perspective on the many missions, roles and responsibilities of Homeland Security Investigations,” said Andrew Hall, AT&T regional director and class president of the first HSI Tampa Citizens’ Academy. “In addition to learning more about HSI, the academy also helped me develop lasting relationships at HSI, and with my fellow cohort members, which will pay dividends for years to come.”  

The Citizens’ Academy was an eight-week course including classroom instruction and practical, real-world exercises, similar to those which agents experience in training.  Each week, a different investigative group presented an agenda and scenario for the academy.  Participants also experienced live fire at a local range, defensive tactics instruction and a presentation by the Special Response Team.

“These kinds of programs build trust and strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the communities we serve,” Spero added.

Participants for the academy were nominated by local HSI employees for inclusion in the program.  Once nominated, the interested community members had to submit an application and undergo a limited background check before ultimately being selected to participate.  The HSI Tampa Citizens’ Academy received more applicants than there were slots available so acceptance was limited, but the office is already looking forward to hosting the next class.

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