Saturday, October 17, 2009

FBI National Academy

I recently had the unique opportunity to attend the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, along with 254 other law enforcement professionals from across the United States and around the world. Each year, the Lodi Police Department has the opportunity to send one member from our management team to Quantico to attend the National Academy. It was a wonderful experience that I will fondly remember for the rest of my life.

Graduates from my class represented law enforcement agencies from 48 states, the District of Columbia, 21 international countries, three military organizations, and three federal civilian organizations.

The FBI Academy is located on the United States Marine Corps Base Quantico, deep within the Prince William Forest. It is an extremely secure location guarded by a Marine Corps security check point one mile off Interstate 95 and then an FBI security checkpoint approximately five miles further into the base. It is a large complex that houses the FBI’s Field Training Unit, Firearms Training Unit, Forensic Science Research and Training Center, Technology Services Unit , Investigative Training Unit, Law Enforcement Communication Unit, Leadership and Management Science Units, Physical Training Unit and their world-renowned Hostage Rescue Unit. The main complex has three dormitories, two cafeterias, a library, a classroom building, a large gym and track, an indoor and eight outdoor ranges and a Hogan’s Alley which is a mock city with facades replicating a small town and is used for tactical training.

Internationally known for its academic excellence, the FBI National Academy provides 10 weeks of advanced investigative, leadership and fitness training through graduate and undergraduate classes which are accredited through University of Virginia. Training for this program is provided by FBI Academy Instructional Staff, Special Agents, and other staff members holding advanced degrees, many of whom are recognized internationally in their field of expertise. I took 17 units of instruction on Leadership, Ethics and Decision Making; Labor Law Issues for Law Enforcement Administrators; Stress Management in Law Enforcement; Managing Organizational Change and Development; Conflict and Crisis Management and Fitness in Law Enforcement. To some extent, it was like being back in college running from class to class, Monday through Friday, on a tight schedule.

The training that I enjoyed the most was the fitness program. The Physical Training Unit challenges each student to improve their physical fitness while attending the academy by exposing us to core performance training. Ironically, I did not lose a single pound, but I lost 8% body fat and 2 inches in my waist. My particular fitness class met on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays for two hours of instruction on nutrition and fitness followed by core and aerobic training. Each Wednesday, the entire academy, as well as several instructors, gathered for our Challenge Runs. These were runs that started at 1.5 miles in the first week of the academy progressing to a 6.1-mile run and obstacle course at the United States Marine Corps Base Quantico known at the Yellow Brick Road. Those that complete this feat receive a traditional yellow brick which signifies their accomplishment in the area of physical fitness, which I proudly display behind my desk.

A total of 42,964 graduates now represent the FBI National Academy since it began in July 1935. Of this number, 25,452 are still active in law enforcement work. We currently have three other National Academy graduates still active in our department: Chief David Main, Capt. Gary Benincasa and Lt. Steve Carillo. Our Mayor and former Police Chief Larry Hansen is a graduate as well.

In addition to the benefits of the academic, leadership and fitness training one receives from attending the National Academy, an extensive litany of professional networking is developed. There is a unique fraternity of FBI National Academy graduates who network with one another for counsel, information sharing, professional advice and friendship. I now have professional contacts in 48 of our nation’s 50 states as well as 21 foreign countries such as England, Germany, Canada, Belgium, Kenya, Gambia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Bangladesh and more. The number of police officers who have the fortunate to attend the National Academy in comparison to the total number of police officers nationwide is very small. I consider myself fortunate to have attended and for that, I thank the Lodi Police Department and the City of Lodi.

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