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About the FBI (Text Version)

Text summary of About the FBI section of the Teen and Kid’s Page.

About the FBI (Text Version)

About the FBI: Header


About the FBI: Colby the FBI DogColby the FBI Dog: So, you’ve been thinking about working for the FBI? When I was a small pup, I wanted to work for the FBI, too. I want you to meet some of the people who work with me. They will be with us during some parts of the field trip.

Maureen: Colby asked me to talk about our history. We were not always called the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI. When our organization began in 1908, it actually had no name. On July 26 of that year, Attorney General Charles Bonaparte brought together 34 investigators into a special agent force. The next year, this group was named the Bureau of Investigation.

In 1933, our name changed to the Division of Investigation and, finally, in 1935, we became what we are today—the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Through each of these name changes, we are changed badges.

We also carry a special wallet that has our picture on it. We use this wallet to identify ourselves to people when we are working. We call it a credential. Here are two different credentials. Just click on the pictures to print them out and then make your own special identification wallet. Don’t forget to put your picture on it.

About the FBI: Junior Special Agent Credential

About the FBI: Fingerprint Expert Credential

What we investigate has also changed over the years. Back in 1908, there were different crimes than what we have today. Also, there were far fewer types of crimes than we have today. A good example of this is car theft. In 1908, almost no one had a car, but as more people bought cars, the number of car thefts increased.

Colby: Wow! I didn’t know that the FBI had changed so much since it first started! Thanks for explaining that, Maureen. Next, we are going to learn about what the FBI does. Here’s Jose to tell you about this.

About the FBI: JoseJose: I am a lawyer for the FBI, and I work for the legal department. A law is like a very important rule. When someone breaks a law, we call it a crime. When Congress makes a law, they decide which government agency will investigate when the law is broken.

Many years ago, the FBI investigated crimes like bank robbery, kidnapping, and the theft of cars that are taken from one state to another. Today, there are over 350 violations of the law that the FBI investigates. We can’t list them all here because there are so many, but we break them down into a few categories. The FBI investigates terrorism, espionage or foreign counterintelligence, cyber crime, public corruption, civil rights violations, organized crime, white-collar crime, and violent crime.

The FBI has many ways of solving these crimes and finding the criminals. One of them is through fingerprint identification.

Fingerprints are a great way to tell people apart because everyone’s fingerprints are unique. This means that no two people in the world have the same fingerprints! Other ways of identifying people (hair color, height, weight, and eye color) may change as a person gets older, but fingerprints stay the same.

We have fingerprint records on more than 100 million people. We search these records in a flash using state-of-the-art technology. The FBI gets thousands of new fingerprint submissions each day. Here’s an example of an FBI applicant fingerprint card. You can click on the picture and print it out.

About the FBI: Fingerprint CardNot all fingerprint files are of criminals. Some records are civil prints. Civil prints are taken of people who work for the government or apply for a job with the government.

Have you ever had your fingerprints taken? It’s a great idea to do this, because if you ever wander off or get lost, your parents will have a record of your fingerprints to give to the police. The faster your parents can get this information to the police, the sooner you will be recognized and safely returned to your family.

Remember, fingerprints are unique. Not even identical twins have the same fingerprints. Take a minute to look at your own fingertip and notice all the ridges and swirls. Now, look at your parents’ fingertips. Can you tell the difference? Take a minute to look at the seven different fingerprint patterns that are used to identify people. You can compare your own fingerprints to these patterns and see which one looks most like your own!

About the FBI: Shirley the FBI DogShirley the FBI Dog: There are other ways of telling people apart besides fingerprints. Did you know that each of us is made up of millions of cells and inside these cells are particles called DNA? It is everywhere in our bodies, including in our hair, blood, saliva, skin, and bones. These particles make up a code that is used to tell people apart. Identical twins share DNA coding, but they are the only people who do. This makes DNA an excellent way of telling people apart. It has become a very important tool in solving crimes when no fingerprints can be found.

Jose: Another tool that helps law enforcement solve cases is a polygraph. This instrument is used to measure how a person’s body reacts to questions. It is based on the theory that a person’s body will indicate if he or she is telling the truth. Researchers John Larson and Leonard Keeler developed this machine, which is also known as a “lie detector.”

There are three steps to the polygraph test. First, the examiner explains what will happen during the test.

Next, the examiner asks a series of questions. The questions can only be answered with “yes” or “no.” Some of the questions are very simple, such as, “Are you 11 years old?” Some are more difficult, such as, “Have you ever lied to someone who trusted you?” The examiner measures the blood pressure, pulse, perspiration, and respiration of the person being examined. Once the questions are finished, the examiner analyzes the results to determine if the person being tested was being truthful.

If the examiner decides that the person being examined was telling the truth, that person will be thanked for taking the test and will be allowed to leave. If, however, the examiner decides that the person being tested is lying, the third part of the test will begin.

The third and final part of the polygraph is called the interrogation. At this time, the examiner tries to persuade the person being examined to tell the truth. The examiner speaks in a professional and understanding way, trying to make the person being tested comfortable with telling the truth. After all, that is the purpose of the polygraph!

Colby: Thanks for explaining all of that to us, Jose. Let’s review what we have learned by filling out the crossword puzzle. Type your guess into the puzzle boxes.

About the FBI: Crossword Puzzle


A _____ is like a very important rule.

The FBI is now putting fingerprint cards in _____ format.

The particles within cells are called ______.

This is another name for a polygraph.

Special Agents carry _______ to identify themselves to people when they work.

Congress makes laws in the U.S. ________.

There are ______ different fingerprint patterns used to identify people.

Each of us is made up of millions of ______.

______ twins are the only people who share DNA coding.

The first group of Agents was known as the Special Agent __________.


About the FBI: Steve, Kim, and WayneSpecial Agent Steve: Hi. I’m Steve, and this is Kim.

Wayne: Hola Chicos! Mellamo Wayne.

Colby: Now, I’m going to tell you about some of the jobs at the FBI. To do this, I will introduce you to three more people: Special Agent Steve, Special Agent Kim, and Wayne.

There are two kinds of jobs at the FBI, Special Agent and Support. First, SA Steve and SA Kim will tell you about being a Special Agent for the FBI. SA is short for Special Agent.

Special Agent Kim: We are Special Agents for the FBI. In order to become a Special Agent, you must graduate from college and have some other special skills, training, or significant work experience.

Special Agents receive training in Quantico, Virginia, at a place called the FBI Academy, a special school for the FBI. Special Agents training school is about 20 weeks long. While they are at the Academy, they go to class and have homework just like you do! Special Agents take classes in science, law, and how to conduct investigations.

Special Agent Steve: New Special Agents are taught how to handle a gun safely. They learn how to clean their gun and how to shoot it at a target. Once they graduate from the FBI Academy, Agents must be tested on their shooting skills regularly.

Can you help me get a bull’s-eye on my target by printing and completing the maze?

About the FBI: Maze

Special Agent Kim: You know how important it is to eat well and exercise, right? Your life depends on it! For Special Agents, it is no different. They must be in shape, and they must be healthy. If they don’t pass tests that check their physical skills, they can’t become Agents! So, if you want to be a Special Agent you’d better eat your spinach!

About the FBI: Exercise ChartFill out the chart on the left (one minute sit-ups, 300-meter sprint, push-ups, 1.5-mile run). Record how many you can do and how fast you can run. With practice, you will see your numbers increase!

Shirley: Working dogs can help catch criminals too!

Special Agent Steve: At the FBI Academy, Special Agents learn self-defense techniques. These skills help them protect themselves from someone who tries to hurt them. They also learn how to arrest people without anyone getting hurt.

About the FBI: Hogan’s AlleyColby: The FBI has a training town called Hogan’s Alley, which looks like any other town, except that no one actually lives there! In this make-believe town, actors and actresses confront new Agents with real life crime situations so that the Agents can practice the skills they learn in class. To the right is a picture of Hogan’s Alley. Just click on the picture to print it out and color it yourself.

Thanks to SAs Kim and Steve, we have a better idea of how much work goes into being an Agent for the FBI.

Next, Wayne will tell you about the support jobs at the FBI.

Wayne: Hi, I’m Wayne. I am a language specialist for the FBI. I grew up speaking English and Spanish at home. I learned to speak Chinese and Korean in school. My job is to translate words into English. This means that I can read something in Spanish, Chinese, or Korean, and explain what it means in English!

Other positions available at the FBI are for people who work on computers, scientists who work in the Laboratory, intelligence analysts, pilots, fingerprint experts, lawyers (like Jose), and cryptanalysts. These jobs require special skills and training. Some require going to college and maybe even taking advanced courses.

Shirley: Can you tell me about some of these jobs?

Wayne: Cryptanalysts study secret messages. They know how to break codes like this one that was found on a spy’s laptop computer. Use the secret code to solve the puzzle.

About the FBI: Cryptanalysis Puzzle


Computer or information technology specialists develop technical solutions for Agents and Support Professionals.

There are many kinds of scientists who work at the FBI. Many of them work in the Laboratory. Some of them know how to look at hair, bones, and skin to learn about a person. They can even tell how old someone is just by looking at their bones! There are other scientists who look at paint chips from cars to figure out how many times and what different colors a car has been painted. There are so many different things that scientists at the FBI do that it’s hard to list them all here.

There are hundreds of jobs in the FBI. We have hidden the names of some of them in this word search. See how many you can find.

About the FBI: Word Search



Kids’ Page Links

Kids’ Page Home

Kindergarten - Fifth Grade
- About the FBI
- Safety Tips
- About Our Dogs

Middle School - 12th Grade
- History of the FBI
- A Day in the Life
- How We Investigate
- FBI Adventure
- Agent Challenge