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Michigan School Leads with DHS Cadet Career Simulator

Michigan’s Kent Intermediate School District leads the nation with helping to teach students about careers in Homeland Security with their week-long Homeland Security Investigations Cadet Academy. Students got a firsthand look at what that organization does and study actual cases.

Started in 2018, the Cadet Academy was developed through a partnership with the Tech Center’s criminal justice program and Homeland Security Investigations, the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Jeremy Pierczynski, HSI Grand Rapids resident agent in charge, created the program — the first of its kind in the nation — by working with Tech Center criminal justice instructor Gregg Isenhoff. “This is an opportunity for the students to take what they have learned in the classroom and apply it,” said criminal justice instructor Martin Brown. “The more you practice, the more proficient you will be.”

Homeland Security agents mentored the students and role-played as suspects, reenacting what they have experienced when investigating, interviewing and prosecuting cases.

“It provides an introduction into what Homeland Security does, so students can consider whether ‘This is the career I want to jump into,’ or ‘No, I would rather work in the state, the county or locally,’” Brown said. 

Students received the cases on Monday, then worked to identify a suspect, gathered evidence, presented their case to a grand jury and then made an arrest. Topics covered included how to investigate bulk cash, cryptocurrency and dark web activities. They also worked to develop skills in investigative surveillance, search warrants, grand jury testimony, arrest warrants and interviewing.

“It’s great to work with these students and watch them discover their passion for law enforcement,” Pierczynski said. “Through this program, we’re able to connect them with opportunities and pathways to help them realize their career goals, whether that be with Homeland Security Investigations or beyond.” 

“I really wanted to take this class because it provides so many aspects of law enforcement, from CSI to Homeland Security. It teaches not only about law, but about defense tactics and other key skills. It is better than sitting behind a desk all day, because you get all of the hands-on experience stuff.”