OSIA celebrates distance learning graduation, reaffirms training opportunities

  • Published
  • By Thomas Brading
  • OSI Public Affairs

The Office of Special Investigations Academy graduated a new cohort of students from its Basic Special Investigators Course - Distance Learning, or BSIC-DL, June 7.

“Distant learning programs give our Academy flexibility on how it delivers training and how our personnel can receive it,” said Brig. Gen. Amy Bumgarner, OSI’s commander. “These virtual options have enabled us to meet the training needs of our personnel, no matter where they are located around the world, while maintaining high standards in content delivery.”

In all, six graduated as part of a continuing effort by OSI to provide educational opportunities through the BSIC-DL course, which has received consistent interest over the years, said Col. Andrea O’Connor, the OSI Academy’s commander.

"Our commitment to flexible, high-quality training ensures that our Special Agents are well-prepared to meet the challenges they face, regardless of their location or operational demands,” she said.

The program began in 2020 with, like most recently, six graduates. By 2021, that number had surged to 39 graduates. Subsequent years saw 15 graduates in 2022 and 35 last year. Two additional BSIC-DL courses are planned for Sept. and Dec. 2024.

The online course, which saves the Department of the Air Force roughly $275,000 annually, is a 10-day, virtually interactive course attended by fully accredited federal agents who have previously completed the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers’ Criminal Investigator Training Program or an equivalent program and are new 1811 hires, said Special Agent Christopher Miller, OSIA Training Integration Management Division noncommissioned officer in charge.

Additionally, the course was designed to provide comprehensive training comparable to the seven-week BSIC course hosted at FLETC, Miller said, ensuring that all participants receive the same high-quality education, encompassing a wide range of essential topics for the development of competent and effective Special Agents.

“Each day, different experts come in to cover various topics, such as interviewing techniques. This approach ensures students receive top-notch instruction in every area of their training,” Miller said.  

And according to recent exit surveys from BSIC students, feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Several students found the course a valuable refresher. One wrote that the course clarified changes in operations, laws and regulations over time.

Another student, who was a former OSI Special Agent, returning after 13 years, praised the course for updating them on the latest innovations and reaffirmed their pride in being part of the organization.

Overall, the feedback highlights the course's success in meeting the needs of both new and returning Special Agents, Miller said.

In June 2020, OSIA first launched the BSIC-DL to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 and create a more efficient way to onboard civilian agents transitioning from other federal law enforcement agencies.

“Distance learning has become an essential tool for education," said O’Connor.  “The ability to offer high-quality, accredited courses online means that our agents can continue to develop their skills.”

Before BSIC-DL, new civilian federal agents attended the full six-and-a-half-week BSIC and potentially CITP, which was more time-consuming and costly. The BSIC-DL offers the same comprehensive curriculum as the seven-week BSIC course hosted at FLETC, but it is delivered online.

Topics are covered through voice-over PowerPoints, podcasts, pre-recorded video presentations, documentation templates and system guides. Daily interactive virtual meetings involve students, instructors and subject matter experts.

In addition, participants complete assignments, quizzes and a final exam before graduation. OSIA staff also provide students with crime scene processing gear, protective vests and raid gear.

This virtual graduation marks an important step in the professional development of OSI Special Agents, said O’Connor, reflecting the OSIA's commitment to providing high-quality, flexible educational opportunities.

The graduation comes at a time when OSIA’s distance learning courses have gained increased recognition and accreditation. For example, the Basic Extension Program, Air Force Counterintelligence Course, and Expeditionary Activities Course are accredited by the Community College of the Air Force.

“We're continually looking to improve our program,” Miller said. “Currently, we’re exploring new learning platforms that offer more technological advancements and a better learning environment.”

Since 2015, these courses have been part of a list of accredited programs that also includes the Criminal Investigator Training Program, Basic Special Investigators Course and Counter-Threat Operations Course.

“As we continue to adapt and innovate in our training approaches, the BSIC-DL program stands as a testament to the OSI Academy’s commitment to excellence,” said Col. Robert Smolich, OSI’s deputy commander, who virtually presided over the graduation. “Our Special Agents are not only prepared for the challenges of today but are also equipped to face the uncertainties of tomorrow with confidence.”