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12/12/2019

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HSI San Juan graduates sixth cohort of HSI Citizens Academy

A service dog, Pilgram, among the graduates
HSI San Juan graduates sixth cohort of HSI Citizens Academy
Back Row (left to right): Victor Quiñones, Jorge Matta, George Yoyner, Jorge Martinez, Javier Reinosa, Victor Diaz, Felix Rodriguez, Luis Olivero. | Front Row (left to right): SA Luis M. Ortiz, Carlos Contreras, Max Perez, Ada Diaz, Iris Jimenez, Arline Bauza, Ana Arvelo, Sariely Rosado, SAC Ivan J. Arvelo | Front: Pilgram, the first service dog ever to graduate from an HSI Citizens Academy.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A group of 15 community leaders and a service dog “Pilgram” graduated Wednesday in San Juan from the sixth U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) sponsored citizens academy. The graduation took place at the HSI facilities in Miramar where, Iván J. Arvelo, special agent in charge for HSI San Juan presented a certificate of completion to the graduates in a special ceremony.

The HSI San Juan citizens academy is the first HSI-sponsored citizens academy in the nation. In 2014, 10 citizens graduated from the program becoming the first citizens to ever graduate from an HSI citizens academy. The group expanded in 2015 when 12 additional community leaders completed the program, followed by 14 others in 2016. In 2017 and 2018 the number of participants was 14 and 15, respectively. On Wednesday, the 2019 class, composed of 15 men and women from the public and private sectors, received their certificates of completion. For the first time since the inception of the program in San Juan, a service dog received a certificate of completion. Pilgram is the service dog of one of the participants, the Secretary of Puerto Rico’s Department of Transportation and Public Works, Mr. Carlos Contreras.

With the objective of bolstering relationships with key community partners, HSI San Juan recruited participants from diverse employment areas including media, congressional affairs, non-government agencies, and the financial industry to attend the academy. HSI employees nominated members of the community who they felt would be suitable candidates.

The HSI San Juan citizens academy was developed by the 2013 HSI San Juan Aspiring Leaders Mentorship Agreement (ALMA) cohort as their graduation project. The goal of the academy is to provide selected community leaders with a unique opportunity to receive an inside look at HSI’s organizational and operational structure while strengthening a relationship that will enhance agency and community relations.

The 15 community leaders selected to attend the sixth cohort underwent a 10-week program, meeting once a week for at least three hours, which provided them with a unique opportunity to experience and learn about the agency through a classroom environment and field training exercises. The curriculum provided for hands-on and interactive activities to keep participants engaged and to make the experience memorable. It included the HSI San Juan's communications center, airport operations, illicit trade, human smuggling and trafficking, gangs, Coast Guard interdiction, transportation of evidence, child exploitation, surveillance, seaport operations, controlled deliveries, financial investigations, pre-trial, and judicial proceedings, clearing a room, special response team operations, firearms training and team building.

“HSI San Juan is extremely proud to be the precursor to the HSI academy concept and to have more than 70 community leaders among its ranks,” said Arvelo. “It is indeed a pleasure to see how an initiative that began as a class project of one of HSI San Juan’s mentorship programs has become an example for others to follow and the standard nationwide.”

The following community leaders composed the sixth cohort of the HSI San Juan Citizens Academy:

  • Victor Quiñones
  • Jorge Matta
  • George Joyner
  • Jorge Martinez
  • Javier Reinosa
  • Victor Diaz
  • Felix Rodriguez
  • Luis Olivero
  • Carlos Contreras
  • Max Perez
  • Ada Diaz
  • Iris Jimenez
  • Arline Bauza
  • Ana Arvelo
  • Sariely Rosado

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 12/13/2019