Wichita — U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren on Monday announced a pilot project aimed at teaching community leaders and others about the federal criminal justice system.
Flanked by law enforcement officials from state, local and federal agencies, Melgren told reporters he was hopeful the U.S. Attorney's Citizens Academy would become an annual affair and that it could be duplicated in northeast Kansas.
"Sometimes the whole issue of federal law enforcement and the efforts that we do are a bit shrouded in mystery and confusion. So because of that, we have decided to start a citizens academy," Melgren said.
The four-session academy begins April 9, and runs from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The remaining sessions are April 16, 23 and 30. The free classes will meet at Wichita State University's School of Community Affairs.
"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," Michael Birzer, the school's director, said in a news release.
Melgren says the goal of the academy is to inform and educate participants about the agencies, investigators and prosecutors who fight crime and enforce federal laws.
Topics include the federal justice system, domestic and international terrorism, drug trafficking, gangs, white collar crime, immigration offenses and crimes against children.
Classes will be taught by representatives from the U.S. attorney's office; the Regional Community Policing Training Institute; the FBI; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Secret Service; and other agencies.
There's room for 24 people to take the course. The deadline for applications is March 26. Applications can be downloaded at ww.usdoj.gov