FBI Chicago Division develops FBI student Explorers

2/8/2017, noon | Updated on 2/8/2017, noon
The FBI Chicago Division created its Explorer Post program five years ago to help teach Chicago teens about the fundamentals ...
The 33 FBI student Explorers continue their two-hour training session, which started in September of 2016 at the FBI Chicago oŸce, located on 2111 W. Roosevelt Road, and will end in April of 2017 with a graduation ceremony at the FBI range in North Chicago. Photo Credit: Christopher Shuttlesworth FBI Chicago Division develops FBI student Explorers

FBI Chicago Division develops FBI student Explorers

By Christopher Shuttlesworth

The FBI Chicago Division created its Explorer Post program five years ago to help teach Chicago teens about the fundamentals and skills of FBI Agents and sta‡ workers. The FBI

Chicago Division’s Edwin C. Shanahan Explorer Post #1920 was established in 2012 in honor of Special Agent Edwin C. Shanahan. Special Agent Shanahan joined the FBI in Chicago in 1920 and was the first Chicago agent killed in the line of duty in 1925. The Explorer Post # 1920’s mission is to instill basic tenets of civic responsibility, foster an interest in and respect for law enforcement, and develop responsible and intelligent youth in Chicago communities, according to the FBI.

“We consider this an opportunity to engage with the community and make sure the [FBI student Explorers] know who we are and what we’re really like opposed to what they see [and hear] on the news,” said FBI Supervisorial Special Agent Vick Lombardo.

Approximately 33 FBI student Explorers are divided into three squads led by Special Agents and Professional Staff who are mentors. Explorers are introduced to a different stage of the investigation process, including areas such as interviews, surveillance, hostage negotiation, and takedowns. Sessions include special speakers, training, and dynamic hands on exercises to promote teamwork and help the students think outside of the box. Explorer sessions are held every other Thursday from September through April from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the FBI Chicago Office, located on 2111 W. Roosevelt Rd., according to the FBI.

Casantra Bences, a UIC College Prep junior, said she decided to come back to the Explorer Post program for a second year as a student volunteer leader because she believes the program will help her long-term leadership skills.

“I’m a part of [UIC College Prep] JROTC Program,” Bences said. “So [coming back] to

the program and being able to further grow my own leadership gives me more experience on what I need to do better as a leader, identifies my weaknesses, strengths and [most importantly] helps me to create more leaders because that’s the [Explorer Post program’s] main purpose.”

According to the FBI, in order for Chicago students to apply, they must be in high school between 14-20 years of age, must not have a prior arrest record or serious traffic violation, must have at least a 2.5 GPA upon acceptance and maintain a 2.5 GPA during the program. During the process, students report academic grades, extracurricular activities, community service, part-time work in the application, a teacher recommendation and write an essay on why they want to participate in the program. Once admission counselors review each student’s application, select applicants are contacted to arrange an in-person interview. After the interview, admissions counselors review the students’ entire application package and finalize candidate selections.

“The [students] have to show interest in the [Explorer Post Program] and go the extra

mile,” Lombardo said. “We don’t choose the kids with the highest G.P.A.’s or with the most extracurricular activities. We’re totally against that. We will take a well-rounded B, C student who can’t a‡ord to play in high school athletics because they may be working part time or helping out a handicapped family member at home.”

FBI Special Agent Billy Shaw said the interview process still can be very competitive but the FBI admission counselors make sure they pick students who can benefit from the


“Some of these students are very shy, so we help bring them out of their shell and teach them about different FBI skills such as building rapport and communicating [skills] because we go out and talk to people,” Shaw said. “It’s not just about using a gun and badge because those are just tools. It’s about our words and how we connect with the [people] in the communities.”

Students can apply online at https:// fbichicagoexplorers.com/application/, download the PDF version of the application form and send it to info@fbichicagoexplorers.

com. The application deadline for the 2017- 2018 Explorer class ends March 15, 2017. The Explorer Post 12-session program will conclude with a graduation ceremony at the FBI range in North Chicago. Students and their guests have an opportunity to participate in a firearms safety and familiarization session, according to the FBI.