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DHS at 10: The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center

Director Connie Patrick
Director, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center

The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center’s (FLETC) mission is to “train those who protect our homeland.” To carry out this mission, the FLETC serves as an interagency law enforcement training organization for 91 federal agencies or partner organizations. Throughout 2013, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is commemorating its tenth anniversary by recognizing key initiatives and employees who have contributed to successes while considering new and innovate ways to achieve its mission. In recognition of this important milestone, leaders from across the Department will be discussing the work they’ve done over the previous decade as well as their current efforts and plans for the future.

Building on these engagements, I recently answered questions about the past, present and future of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. The men and women of FLETC look forward to continuing our service and mission to provide fast, flexible and focused training to secure and protect America.

How did FLETC operate before the creation of DHS?

Since it was established in 1970, the FLETC has provided basic and advanced training to federal, state, local, rural, tribal, territorial, and international law enforcement personnel. With decades of experience meeting the training needs of multiple law enforcement communities, the FLETC was poised to embrace a broadened mission when it formally transferred from the Treasury Department to the Department of Homeland Security in 2003.  Over the past forty years, approximately 1,000,000 law enforcement officers and agents have been trained at FLETC. During FY 2012, almost 70,000 students received FLETC training.

How has FLETC changed since its incorporation into the Department?

The transition to DHS prompted a refocusing of many FLETC training programs as well as the creation of new ones to meet emerging needs, such as anti/counter-terrorism, flying armed, intelligence awareness and critical infrastructure protection. The rapid advancement of technology and the borderless nature of many crimes highlighted a need for enhanced training in technical areas such as computer forensics, cyber investigations, and financial fraud. The recognition that terrorism can occur anywhere at any time led to a rural training initiative that ensures officers working in the most remote areas have access to critical training.

As the law enforcement landscape becomes increasingly complex, we constantly seek emerging training needs  in areas such as human trafficking, drug-endangered children, and countering violent extremism.  The importance of proactively identifying new technologies to enhance training prompted us to integrate advanced simulators into firearms, driver, maritime, and interview training.

What have been some milestones for the FLETC, and how do you see it evolving in the next 10 years?

We recognize the critical role state-of-the-art facilities play in providing realistic training. In 2004, the FLETC began constructing a Counter Terrorism Operational Training Facility designed to provide an immersive environment to address evolving threats.   Most recently, we opened an Intermodal Training Facility where frontline law enforcement personnel experience scenario-based training to better deter and combat threats across major transportation modes; and soon will open a 35+ acre complex named Danis City, an urban/suburban training facility featuring realistic venues and a high-tech forensics lab.

These and other innovations are needed to connect with new generations of students, who only know a world where technology is omnipresent. The FLETC looks very different than it did only 10 years ago, as we aim to ensure our students are more prepared than ever before.

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