WSU, feds join to teach Citizen Academy

12:00:02 PM CDT - Wednesday, April 04, 2007

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

When Jackie Williams, now a senior fellow in WSU's School of Community Affairs, served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas, he'd often ask at speaking engagements whether his audience understood what a U.S. Attorney does. He got the same response he gets from his classes when he asks the same question: not really.

Current U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren and WSU's School of Community Affairs, along with representatives from federal agencies, are planning to educate community leaders and area residents about federal law enforcement during a four-week Citizen Academy program, scheduled to start April 9 at WSU.

"I think it's a great idea because so many people don't understand the federal and state process," said Williams.

Michael Birzer, who directs the School of Community Affairs, also thinks the academy is a great idea. That's why he and the faculty within the school agreed to help teach the sessions when asked to join the U.S. Attorney's office in this pilot project.

The academy will meet from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Mondays, April 9, 16, 23 and 30. Participants were asked to apply for the 24 available spots in the academy.

"We hope to give community members the opportunity to engage themselves as active participants in learning the importance of the federal criminal justice system and its vitality in safeguarding our community," said Birzer, in a release announcing the Citizen Academy.

The academy, which is expected to become an annual offering, will include the topics of the federal criminal justice system and its similarities and differences with the state system, drug trafficking, gangs, white-collar crime and health care fraud, domestic and international terrorism, immigration offenses, and tracking predators on the Internet.

The classes will be taught by representatives from the U.S. Attorney's office; WSU; the FBI; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Secret Service, the Postal Inspection Service, Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General; and the Wichita Police Department

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