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FBI's 224th National Academy Graduation

FBI National Academy
Where Lasting Friendships are Forged

05/03/06

FBI NATIONAL ACADEMY: Where Lasting Friendships are Forged
Dallas Assistant Police Chief Daniel
Garcia addresses the graduating class
at the National Academy.

For 10 weeks, they learned and studied together, ate their meals and roomed together, endured tough physical training together, and commiserated about the families they missed desperately. In the end, they left armed with new skills to fight crime and with new friendships forged in the woods of Northern Virginia.

They weren’t new special agents graduating from the FBI Academy; they were the students attending the 224th session of the FBI’s National Academy, which has trained law enforcement officers to become better leaders since 1935.

Four times a year, 250 senior police officers from around the world arrive at the secluded campus of the FBI’s training facility in Quantico, Virginia. There, they receive training in the latest law enforcement practices and skills. Among the most versatile tools they gain are friendships.

“It’s an excellent experience. You’re locked in for 10 weeks with 250 other guys and you get their perspectives on how they do things,” said Richard A. Davis, a commander with the Waukegan Police Department in Illinois. “You get varying views on how things are worked out.”

Admission to the National Academy is competitive, to say the least. Police departments nominate their top candidates for admission. Less than one percent of police officers in the country are accepted.

Recent participants came from every state and 21 countries—including Greece, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Japan. Federal agencies like the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the National Park Service and local departments sent captains, lieutenants, deputies, rangers, sergeants, commanders, inspectors, investigators, and even a subcommissionare.

All brought their perspectives and experiences to share.

“I’d always heard stories that you’d get the opportunity to learn, not just from the academy, but from 249 other officers,” said class spokesman Daniel V. Garcia, a 27-year veteran and an assistant chief with the Dallas Police Department. “The instructors embrace the idea that students learn from each other. They encourage discussion and dialogue.”

“This is an important program, to get law enforcement from all over the world together. We all have the same problems,” said Ari Stenman, a detective superintendent with the Swedish Security Service.

Students receive traditional classroom training, covering topics like counterterrorism, cyber crime, and behavioral analysis. They are also encouraged to tackle the “Yellow Brick Road,” a grueling 6.1 mile run and obstacle course that also challenges young Marine recruits.

As FBI Director Robert Mueller noted at the 224th graduation in March, students made friendships that cross ranks and geography. “And it is when your cases are difficult, your hours are demanding, and your hearts are heavy that you will benefit most from the friendships you have forged here,” he said.

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