11/10 News behind the scenes of the FBI field office in Omaha


LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – Local news covers local police and state patrols almost every day, but one agency that doesn’t often make the daily headlines is the FBI. But the Bureau of Investigations is present in Nebraska.

11/10 Bayley Bischof got a behind-the-scenes look at how the FBI Omaha Field Office works as part of the 2021 FBI Citizen Academy. On Friday, she spoke with Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel to talk about his experience and why the field office is organizing the academy.

“We find that by building this bridge with the community, by opening our doors for people to understand us, we find that in turn helps us protect national security and uphold the constitution,” Kowel said.

The Omaha FBI has 27 academies and each year between 15 and 25 community leaders can peek behind the curtain.

Bischof said attendees had the opportunity to learn how to dust fingerprints and search for evidence of blood with the FBI’s evidence response team. They held active shooting drills with SWAT members, wielding mock pistols before stepping onto the range and shooting the gun officers that officers carry on their hips every day.

The sessions, which lasted six weeks, are facilitated by active agents and analysts. Kowel said the academy is always worth its time.

“We’ve been doing this for a long time at FBI Omaha,” Kowel said. “We launched the first in 2005 and recently finished on the 27th and the more we do them, the more we realize the benefits we reap and the benefits the community derives from these communities.”

In addition to hands-on learning, sessions were given on all of the main FBI missions, including counterterrorism, cybersecurity, organized crime, violent crimes against children and more.

When asked what Kowel thinks is the most interesting session in the academy, he replied counterintelligence.

“People seem to be really interested in knowing more about counterintelligence,” Kowel said. “People are aware of our criminal agenda, the cases we make of gangs, bank robberies, crimes against children, these things are in the newspapers and on television. But people are not always aware of the work we do on the national security side, especially with counterintelligence and the extent to which other nation states are targeting us to steal our information, our innovation. “

Another interesting aspect that the community may not be aware of, Kowel said, is the actual size of the FBI. He said there were fewer officers across the country than police in New York City. He said it required them to work hand in hand with local law enforcement, including the Lincoln Police Department.

“Whether it’s terrorism, the cyber front, crimes against children, every program involves teams of us working with local police, local sheriffs and other federal agencies,” Kowel said. .

The academy sheds light on all of these topics and more. But it’s not just about sharing information, it’s about building relationships.

“The first thing we want community members to know, especially those who have been successful in our citizen academy, is that if there is anything we should know, if there has been a crime. hateful, gang violence, if they were the victim of a cyber attack, we would like to know, ”Kowel said. ” Call us. “

Bischof was appointed to attend the academy by an officer. Kowel said the agency specifically seeks to bring community leaders through the program, whether they are members of the media, people who work in nonprofits or with churches, or those who work with local businesses.

Applications for the Citizens’ Academy are currently not open, but you can check the FBI Omaha website to find out when they are.

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