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Criminal justice students visit the Diplomatic Security Interim Training Facility for a day of hands-on learning

FACT Unit Chief, Shane Brown
Diplomatic Security Service instructor and Foreign Affairs Counter Threat (FACT) unit chief, Shane Brown describes weekly training to Northern Virginia Community College students, Oct. 25, 2018. (U.S. Department of State Photo)
FACT Training
NOVA students observe the FACT final training exercise, Oct 26, 2018. (U.S. Department of State Photo)
Rollover Simulator
Professor Hill-Megginson and her students are suspended upside down in a rollover simulator, Oct 26, 2018. (U.S. Department of State Photo)

By: Hannah Patterson, FACT Coordinator, Security & Law Enforcement Training Division

Forty criminology and criminal justice students from Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) visited the Diplomatic Security Interim Training Facility (DS ITF) for a day of hands-on learning on October 26, 2018.

For many students, it was their first time speaking with Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agents and learning about DSS-related career paths. Dean Henderson, a DSS instructor and key organizer for the visit said, “This visit demonstrates a variety of jobs and training in federal law enforcement and security that are unique to the Department of State for students who are considering a career in law enforcement.”

The students started their day in the mock embassy training area, observing diplomats participating in a Foreign Affairs Counter Threat (FACT) final training exercise. The students looked on as simulated gunfire broke out and FACT participants ran to the embassy. FACT participants also donned personal protective equipment, crawled out of a smoke-filled chancery, and provided MARCH medical assistance to wounded mannequins. (MARCH is mnemonic for prioritizing trauma care: Massive hemorrhage, Airway control, Respiratory support, Circulation, Hypothermia and Head injury.) At the end of the exercise, the students met with Robert Brennan, FACT course coordinator; Jillian Burns, former Consul General to Herat; and Michael Owen, former Ambassador to Sierra Leone.

Students observed additional training sessions that provided opportunities to ask training and career related questions to DSS instructors and subject matter experts. Some of the day’s highlights included crawling through a smoke-filled smokehouse, practicing defensive tactics, viewing a firearms demonstration, experiencing a rollover accident in a simulator, and observing a room-clearing demonstration in the tactical maze.

The action-packed day concluded with a special question and answer session with Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) and Counter Threat Branch Chief, Shawn Sherlock. SSA Sherlock discussed his DSS career and explained how DSS has grown and advanced. “DSS is at an exciting time in its history and we are bringing on a lot of new talent with bright futures,” Sherlock told the students. “If travelling is a passion and you are up for a challenge and willing to put in hard work, life with DSS is rewarding and filled with great experiences abroad.”

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.

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