A surprising part of federal law enforcement training

July 16, 2014

Maybe some of our readers already knew this, but I did not:

[A]ll FBI academy trainees learn about the rise of Nazi Germany and the transformation of law enforcement into a tool of oppression.

“We send every one of our agents to the Holocaust Museum before they’re agents to know and understand what happens when an agency goes rogue,” ex-FBI director Robert Mueller explained recently.

Agents take a private, guided tour of the museum. Then there’s a specialized class that highlights how everyday law enforcement played a key role in Germany’s descent into authoritarianism. It wasn’t only elite military units, like the infamous Schutzstaffel, or SS.

A portion of the class at the museum is led by the program’s creator, David Friedman, the Anti-Defamation League’s director of law enforcement initiatives. He asks the agents point blank: What makes you different? Pointing at the U.S. Constitution isn’t enough.

The FBI isn’t alone. Nearly every federal law enforcement agency sends new recruits to the museum. The 90,000 who have been there since 1999 include agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Secret Service and U.S. Marshals, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

(Thanks to Bill Otis for the link.)

Will Baude is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School, where he teaches constitutional law and federal courts. His recent articles include Rethinking the Federal Eminent Domain Power, (Yale Law Journal, 2013), and Beyond DOMA: State Choice of Law in Federal Statutes, (Stanford Law Review, 2012).
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