Attorney General and FBI Director Congratulate Training Program’s 256 Graduates
The nation’s top law enforcement leaders emphasized coordination and communication between federal, state, local, and international agencies in remarks today to more than 250 law enforcement officers from 49 states and 35 foreign countries who were graduating from the FBI’s National Academy.
Attorney General William P. Barr joined FBI Director Christopher Wray on Friday in Quantico, Virginia, to ceremonially mark the end of 10 weeks of rigorous training for students in the 276th session of the National Academy, a professional course of study for senior-level law enforcement managers. The highly selective program is held on the same campus where new FBI special agents and intelligence analysts are trained to investigate threats in the U.S. and around the world.
“The gravest threats to society today—terrorism, drug trafficking, human trafficking, cyber threats and even elder fraud—are increasingly national and even international in scope,” Barr said to the crowd of 256 graduating students and the families they haven't seen for more than two months. “This makes cooperation more important than ever. And it’s why the relationship and the shared understanding and the trust that are built here at the National Academy are also more important than ever.”
“The relationship and the shared understanding and the trust that are built here at the National Academy are ... more important than ever.”
Attorney General William P. Barr
A central goal of the National Academy is to improve working relationships and personal networks across law enforcement agencies to better face challenges. To that end, Attorney General Barr used the occasion to remind students of the recent creation in the Department of Justice (DOJ) of a unit whose mission is to keep open the lines of communication between state and local law enforcement and DOJ.
The State and Local Law Enforcement Coordination Section, Barr said, “will focus exclusively on communications and cooperation with our state and local partners.”
National Academy students arrived 10 weeks ago from as far away as Bahrain and Finland. During a challenging curriculum and lively discussions about leadership, terrorism, community policing, and cybercrimes, they have formed bonds that will remain long after leaving Quantico. They came from six different continents but leave as part of a team.
“The members of class 276 represent every level of law enforcement—federal, state, and local,” Wray said. “But as I have often said, all of us in law enforcement serve on one team.”
Brian J. Issitt of the Phoenix Police Department represented the graduating National Academy officers. Family members of the 256 graduates filled Jefferson Hall of the FBI Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
The National Academy was created in 1935 as the Police Training School with just 23 students. In the late 1930s, international students were invited to attend, but usually only a few per session. The numbers rose significantly in the 1960s when President John F. Kennedy signed a memorandum to boost international enrollment. The 35 international students in this session is the National Academy’s largest number ever.
“For more than 80 years,” said Wray, “this program has served as a bridge that connects state and local law enforcement to international law enforcement.” Domestically, Wray added, “The National Academy is a perfect example of how federal law enforcement can—and should—help our state and local partners to succeed.”
The culminating event for National Academy students, held earlier this week, was a grueling 6.1-mile obstacle run through the woods of Quantico, designed by the U.S. Marine Corps. The Yellow Brick Road, as it is called, challenges students to literally overcome obstacles and work together to get to the end. Finishers are rewarded with a bright yellow brick emblazoned with their session number. To date, more than 52,000 students from 170 countries have graduated from the National Academy.
“Your bricks don't just represent a challenge—they themselves are a challenge,” Wray said. “It’s up to you now to ensure that the network you see in this auditorium grows larger and stronger, and that the Yellow Brick Road grows longer and wider.”