FBI Citizens Academy opens some eyes

FBI Citizens Academy opens some eyes

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by RAD BERKY / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @RadBerkywcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on May 16, 2013 at 11:34 PM

CHARLOTTE -- Julian Flamer aimed a laser pistol at a screen Thursday night and tried to guess if the man coming at him was armed and dangerous.

Flamer lives in Charlotte, is a college grad, and works at a local bottling plant.

And he had no idea what the FBI was all about.

"I think you learn the FBI is secretive so you only know what is told to you," he said.

So he jumped at the chance to join the latest class in the FBI's Citizens Academy -- where 17 local business, religious, and community leaders are taking weekly classes, learning what real FBI agents do.

The new Special Agent in Charge, John Strong, said the academy is a way to show that agents are people too.

"We go to church with them.  Our kids go to school with their kids.  And we want to protect the community for the same reason they want us to protect it," Strong said.

The class members got to use the same computer simulator that agents use to learn when to use deadly force.

Their instructor, Agent Mark Moss, explained the simulator that looks and plays like a high-tech video game.

The class members each were given a pistol that fired a laser beam and had to decide when to shoot to kill.

"You get a scene.  You don't know who the bad guy is.  You don't know who the good guy is.  You don't know what is going on and you have to make a split second decision that is life or death," said Moss.

Going through the class was an eye-opener for Flamer and it actually made him think about the possibility of becoming an agent himself.

"It gives me a chance to see what life is like as an agent and kind of gives me guidance towards a career," Flamer said.

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