As one of the most important and celebrated law enforcement agencies in the country, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) maintains some of the highest selection criteria. Of the thousands of applicants who possess exemplary academic and professional credentials, only a handful make it through the selection process to enter the agency as special agent recruits. This elite group is then welcomed into the Basic Agent Training Program held at the DEA Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
Basic DEA Agent Training Program
This 18 week program includes regular physical training that requires all trainees to complete 84 hours of fitness and defensive tactics courses that cover marshall arts and non-lethal weapons.Trainees will also complete 122 hours of firearms training, which includes:
- Basic marksmanship
- Deadly force decision making (rules of engagement)
- Tactical shooting
- Use of ballistic protection
- Low light targeting
The purpose of these courses is to prepare recruits to function at optimal levels in a variety of extreme and stressful situations. In order to prepare for these scenarios, the DEA created the Practical Applications Unit, which instructs students in surveillance and undercover methods. This practical instruction helps guide students through risk management protocols in the complex situations that undercover or other high risk scenarios often present.
The Legal Instruction Section designs and delivers lectures on the federal, state, and international laws under which DEA agents operate. These courses provide the legal framework that permits DEA agents to perform arrests, confiscate property or conduct tactical operations in the United States and abroad. Classroom instruction will also cover a variety of topics that include:
- Information systems
- International relations
Advanced DEA Agent Training
Many of the DEA’s operations and investigations involve a financial component usually pertaining to money laundering, seizing drug manufacturing facilities or confiscating property purchased with money from narcotics sales. Many of the diversion operations that involve illegal sales of misappropriated pharmaceuticals are also based on financial improprieties.
DEA special agents, intelligence officers, task force officers and diversion investigators all take introductory and advanced courses in financial investigations. The ability to accurately track illegal funds is often critical to producing a legal basis for an operation, and the DEA emphasizes this skill in many of its training programs.
Field Agent Training Agent Program
This four day course provides experienced agents with the instruction for becoming Field Training Agents. FTAs introduce new recruits to field operations and evaluate their performance during the probationary period. Out of the almost 5,000 special agents, about 1,200 have taken this training program and are authorized to instruct recruits in introductory field procedures.
Conspiracy and Complex Investigations School
The Conspiracy and Complex Investigations School was created to instruct field and intelligence officers in planning, managing and evaluating complicated and long-term investigations. The foundation of this training program is using historical cases as a starting point for conducting investigations into complex drug operations. This program analyzes the techniques utilized by previous investigators including wiretaps, financial investigations and intelligence gathering methods.
Advanced Agent School
This one week program is mandatory for all agents two to five years after graduation from basic training. This program refreshes leadership principles that were provided during BAT as well as provides the latest information about drug trafficking and money laundering strategies. Advanced Agent School also offers details about new information systems, law enforcement technologies, and tactical procedures.
International Training Section
The International Training Section provides instruction in narcotics law enforcement to police organizations of other countries. These courses include investigative techniques, cross-agency cooperation, DEA communication, and intelligence gathering methods. The purpose of this section is to nurture stronger relationships between the DEA and the law enforcement agencies of countries in which the DEA operates. The importance of these relationships has often proved critical to the success of intelligence and interdiction operations.
Tactical Safety and Survival Unit
The Tactical Safety and Survival Unit educates trainees in:
- Advanced self-defense skills
- Effective arrest and control techniques
- Mental conditioning
- Combat skills
- Fitness programs
- Felony vehicle stops
- High speed vehicle operation
- High risk raid planning and implementation
Many of the graduates of tactical training go on to serve with elite DEA units that conduct operations in the U.S. and abroad.
Executive Training Development Program
The Drug Enforcement Administration is committed to preparing special agents and civilian employees for leadership positions. The Executive Training Development Program identifies promising personnel and provides them with training for supervisor and management positions. This program includes enforcement, administrative and leadership instruction through the DEA as well as its partner, the University of Virginia.
Within the Executive Training Development program is the DEA Leadership Forum, which helps prepare future DEA leaders that will go on to serve as liaisons to state and local law enforcement, or other federal agencies.