Hogan’s Alley is a tactical training facility in Quantico, Va. used by the FBI Training Academy. The 10-acre site provides a realistic training environment for new agents.
By Larry Wack
Retired FBI Agent
Questions about the name and origin of the FBI’s “Hogan’s Alley” surface often with law enforcement personnel, gun enthusiasts and history buffs.
Within FBI circles, it’s mentioned that the alley obtained its name based upon an 1800s comic strip having the same name.
The comic strip’s alley was in a rough neighborhood and the name fit the “neighborhood” of the FBI’s training area. That’s the short answer.
The longer answer follows the progress of law nforcement training from the 1920s through the 1950s, beginning at Camp Perry, Ohio and ending at Quantico, Virginia.
The Sunday comics edition of “Hogan’s Alley,” had its beginnings in New York City:
“Cartoonist, illustrator, and artist, Richard F. Outcault, was born in Lancaster, Ohio and studied art at the Cincinnati University School of Design. In December, 1890 he married and moved to New York City. In November, 1894, he became the founding father of comic strips with The Origin of a New Species. He then created Hogan’s Alley featuring the immensely popular character, Micky Dugan, later known as the Yellow Kid.”
Debuting in 1895, the Yellow Kid was an Irish urchin living and playing in the rough neighborhood of “Hogan’s Alley” within the sometimes dangerous slums of New York City. Online samples of the Sunday comic show the dilapidated row homes, complete with characters in and out of doorways and windows along with a variety of store fronts,vendors, local thugs and mixed nationalities.
With Outcault* having his original roots in Ohio, it’s not surprising that twenty or so years after the popular comic’s distribution, elements within that state would be the first to adopt the comic’s name. In this case, law enforcement took the lead during the 1920s at Camp Perry, Ohio. According to a 2010 article in the American Rifleman:
“The first reference found with the use of an operational “Hogan’s Alley” occurred at the Nat’l Guard’s Camp Perry, Ohio during the 1920s. The NRA, in close conjunction with the National
Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice (NBPRP), overseer of the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP), established at Camp Perry the Special Police School in 1926 under the Small Arms Firing School, which included a tactical course called “Hogan’s Alley.” It consisted of makeshift buildings with reappearing silhouettes to simulate urban shoot-outs.”
Subsequent to the Kansas City Massacre in June, 1933 the FBI entered the “war on crime” with additional firearms acquisition and organized training being at the forefront. Bureau files show that through the efforts of Hoover Committee Members, Assistant
Director Hugh Clegg, SA Frank Baughman, and others the FBI began training agents in firearms with U. S. Army assistance nationwide. This was before the FBI’s relationship with the US Marine Corps. Clegg, who majored in education, would eventually become Assistant Director of Inspection and Training and would play a key role in the founding of the FBI Academy.
One early firearms expert who assisted with FBI training, and was also familiar with Camp Perry, Ohio was Major Julian S. Hatcher, Ordnance Department, U. S. Army.
Hatcher wrote several books in the late 1920s and mid 1930s about firearms and during the period he was Ordnance Officer and Ordnance Representative for the National Matches at Camp Perry. In writing a “Foreword” to Hatcher’s book in 1935, Firearms Investigation, Identification & Evidence, FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover praised Hatcher mentioning his service as a member of the Bureau’s training school faculty.
Importantly, Hatcher’s book, Textbook Of Pi s tol s & Revolvers, (1935) provides us with a visual of the layout and purpose of “Hogan’s Alley” at Camp Perry. He writes: “Something on this general order is found in the so-called “Hogan’s Alley” range which is part of the great Police School conducted by The National Rifle Association at Camp Perry each year. ‘Hogan’s Alley’ consists of several sham buildings erected on the target line, to represent a street in a slum section of a town. There are, of course, numerous doors and windows, and there are chimneys, etc. behind which gangsters might be supposed to be lurking. The officer then walks down the street, with his gun loaded. ……As each figure appears in some unexpected place, the officer fires at it.” 3
Read more »