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Denver residents learn about gathering evidence, solving cases at FBI Citizens Academy

Residents learn about gathering evidence during FBI Citizens Academy
Residents learn about gathering evidence during FBI Citizens Academy 02:04

A group of local citizens are getting an inside look at the FBI in Denver and the work FBI agents do. It's for the FBI Citizens Academy, an exclusive, invite-only program that is only held once a year in Denver.

The mission behind the partnership is to build a bridge between the FBI and citizens.

From processing tire tracks and fingerprints at a crime scene, to identifying blood stains and patterns; the FBI Citizens Academy offers a look behind the scenes at the work the bureau does.

"I think all of us have an idea of what the FBI does, but actually seeing what they do is completely different," said Scott Southworth.

Southworth attended the Citizens Academy in 2012. At the time, he was a small business owner and worked for a private foundation involving grants and investments.

"Going through the FBI Citizens Academy exposed me to some things in the defense sector and the law enforcement sector," said Southworth. "It was just a mind-blowing experience."

Those participating learn about different FBI programs and the tools and techniques they use to solve crimes.

"To be able to actually hear from the different agents, their capabilities, experiences, and the workload they handle, it was an education that I did not expect," said Southworth.

Participants engage in a three-hour conversation weekly for eight weeks, totaling a minimum of 18 hours. This year's academy has 27 participants.

The most recent presentation was from the Evidence Response Team. The team processed crime scenes like the Aurora Theater shooting, STEM School shooting, Boulder King Soopers shooting, and the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose investigation. 


Another presentation was from the FBI bomb techs, explaining what it takes to diffuse a bomb.

Tyler McCrudy is an FBI special agent and mentioned that the bureau only invites business leaders and strategic partners to the academy.

"We look for partnerships with different sectors such as space, technology, intelligence, and really develop those relationships," said Special Agent McCrudy, who mentioned that every academy has a mix of people from different sectors.

He also mentioned that these relationships can be ongoing after graduation, to help one another when needed.

"We use the Citizens Academy to build a bridge between the FBI and the community at large, to understand their needs and how we can fulfill them, and how we can help them," said McCrudy. "We provide information to them, and they provide information back to us to help mitigate any issues they may have."

Southworth is now the President of the FBI Denver Citizens Academy Association, a nonprofit for academy graduates

"They have a desire to serve their communities and to do something good. So that's an extension of our alumni association, is to really support the field office in their initiatives," said Southworth.

Southworth also mentioned that the alumni association supports initiatives for the field office including elder fraud, fentanyl, and human trafficking or sextortion. 

The association helps facilitate locations for FBI agents to give presentations to the community and have conversations about such topics.

The alumni association has over 400 graduates of the Citizens Academy, with about 220 active alumni.

There is a nomination process to partake in the academy, or people can nominate themselves. For more information about the academy at Denver FBI's Community Outreach page

Academies are also held once a year for the wider Colorado area, and there's also an academy held in Wyoming.

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