Criminal incidents around Washington may not always be what they seem: The FBI, CIA, Secret Service, and other authorities stage crimes all over town, aiming to put trainees in the heat of the action, the Washington Post reports. Professional actors, students, retired cops, and others play bad-guy targets for new recruits—sometimes to the shock of bystanders not in on the drama.
“The goal is to make the training realistic and relevant,” says a CIA spokeswoman. Some actors get deeply involved in their roles: One psychologist has played the same mentally ill person for decades, evolving from a man "babbling about killing Reagan” to someone who sacrificed a kitten to Allah—and makes $300 an hour doing so. But not every character can be made to fit the times: "I just had to dump 18 roles from the Bush administration," he says.