NEW YORK — On Wednesday, March 15, 19 New York City citizens, representing business, not-for-profit organizations, academia and community groups, graduated from the inaugural U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York Citizens Academy. The ceremony was held in the Ceremonial Courtroom of the Eastern District of New York (EDNY), in Brooklyn, New York. The keynote speaker during the ceremony was U.S. District Court Judge Hon. Sterling Johnson, Jr. Judge Johnson underscored the importance of law enforcement and community working together to address the many public safety and national security challenges that our nation faces.
The 19 community leaders selected to attend the academy underwent an eight-week course where they experienced a unique opportunity to learn about the agency in an active environment that included classroom instruction as well as practical exercises. Academy participants were afforded a unique insight as to how HSI enforces more than 400 statutes focused on border security, transnational crime and national security.
The program provided for hands-on and interactive activities to keep participants engaged leading to a memorable experience for both the students and agents. It included a behind the scenes look at HSI New York’s Border Enforcement Security Task Force airport and seaport operations, El Dorado Task Force financial investigations, Operation Community Shield transnational gangs investigations, Trade Enforcement operations regarding intellectual property rights violations and human exploitation investigations concerning human smuggling and sex trafficking.
“I made many new friends for life from both the agent group and my fellow Academy members. This is no accident. Rather, it is a testament to the wonderful HSI folks who conceived of and executed the program, chose the participants/participating agents, and made it conducive to learn and forge strong personal relationships,” said David B. Chenkin, Esq., partner at Zeichner Ellman & Krause LLP and Academy participant. “I am honored to be considered part of the family and pledge to continue to be an enthusiastic ambassador for HSI and all law enforcement!”
“The Academy showcased the diverse HSI mission and offered citizen partners with a unique chance to try to put themselves in the shoes of law enforcement,” said Karen Hennigan, director and associate general counsel for Citigroup, Inc. and Academy participant. “The results were eye opening, at times hilarious, but always informative and ultimately invaluable for all of us. It built critical understanding and fostered partnership in a unique way that we hope will help us all be better citizen partners to the HSI family.”
Through this academy, HSI was able to identify itself with the community it serves and protects while allowing the community to interact and learn from actual special agents. Recognizing the importance of law enforcement partners, HSI recognizes U.S. Customs & Border Protection, U.S. Marshals Service EDNY and the U.S. Attorney’s Office at EDNY for their invaluable support in making this first academy a huge success.