If you are interested in a career in the Federal Bureau of Investigations, take note: no one escapes Hogan’s Alley. No, we’re not referring to having to sit through one of the original 18 tedious video games released for the Nintendo back in 1984. We’re talking about the real deal here.
Hogan’s Alley is a tactical training facility of more than 10 acres owned and operated by the FBI Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia. It opened in 1987 and provides a realistic urban setting for training agents of the FBI, DEA, and other local, state, federal and international law enforcement agents.
The FBI’s Hogan’s Alley has evolved out of police and military training facilities going back to World War I. The first time someone referred to a facility called “Hogan’s Alley” was at the Special Police School, established by the National Rifle Association and the Army’s National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice at Camp Perry in Ohio. It was created after a 1920 survey of police departments for cities with a population over 25,000 revealed that only 13 had marksmanship training programs. In 1924, the police departments of all cities with populations of over 10,000 were invited to participate in national matches at Camp Perry. The coming of WWII closed the Special Police School down. The Camp Perry facility re-opened in 1956, and was probably used by the FBI, and that was probably the inspiration for the 1984 arcade game “Hogan’s Alley”.
According to the FBI, they “borrowed it from the ‘Hogan’s Alley‘ comic strip of the 1800s. The alley was located in a rough neighborhood, so we thought the name fit our crime-ridden town.” While the comic strip was almost certainly the original source of the name, the Camp Perry facility was probably the more immediate source of the name.
The layout consists of a street with a bank, a post office, a hotel (“The Dogwood Inn”), a laundromat, a barber shop, a pool hall, homes, shops, and more, many of which are named after events in the FBI’s past. The town is populated by actors who “participate” in the training that is in progress; most play innocent civilians, but some play terrorists, bank robbers, drug dealers, or other criminal roles.
Hogan’s Alley is used to teach agents investigative techniques, firearms skills, and defensive tactics. Scenarios involve investigations of terrorist activities, planning and making arrests, processing evidence at crime scenes, conducting interviews and searches, using ballistic shields as protection, and clearing areas and buildings so they’re safe to enter. Simulated munitions, which are essentially realistic paintball guns, are used in simulated gun fights with the criminal role players. Since civilian law enforcement’s rules of engagement are far more restrictive than those generally in effect in the military, the shoot/no-shoot decisions are far more realistic than was possible in the past with the participation of these actors and the limited munitions. Modern simulations used by military and police also now include a wide range of simulated weapons and scenarios, from force on force scenarios using paintball gun technology to life sized, computer animated simulations projected in special 360 degree theaters, using advanced light guns with force feedback to simulate recoil.
If you’ve got the chops with the venerable Nintendo light gun, maybe you want to step up to the plate with the big boys? Hogan’s Alley awaits you…