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Brown graduates from FBI National Academy
May 21, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

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Courtesy Photo - Troy Brown (right) and his roommate, Dick Wong of the Hong Kong Police Department, received yellow bricks for completing the challenging Yellow Brick Road obstacle course during their 10-week stay at the FBI National Academy.

Admission can be a long, hard process, but law enforcement professionals from around the world have aspired to be part of the premiere training offered through the FBI – and one of our local officers was part of the latest graduating class.

Chief Deputy Sheriff for Scotts Bluff County Troy Brown was one of 220 law enforcement officers from around the world granted admission to attend the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.

Graduating in March 2015, Brown was part of the 259th class to go through the academy since it opened in the 1930s. The 10-week training is scheduled only four times a year, and officers can wait a long time before they’re accepted into the program. But the first step is for the officer to be recommended by his or her department. Brown’s recommendation came when he was promoted to Chief Deputy in 2013.

“Less than one percent of law enforcement will ever attend the national academy,” Brown said. “Criteria for acceptance into the program are very strict. I went through three interviews and physical testing before I was approved.”

Among Brown’s class of 220 officers, some were from Australia, New Scotland Yard in London, Hong Kong, Germany, as well as departments from across America. One of the things that drew them to Virginia was the level of training they would receive.

At the FBI National Academy, officers get to attend graduate level classes on behavioral and forensic science, health and fitness, leadership development and communications.

“The instructors have real world experience in law enforcement,” Brown said. “Almost all of them are FBI agents who have worked in all areas of the profession. Many of them have advanced degrees in their related fields.”

One of them has a doctorate in psychology and is teaching conflict resolution. That’s after spending 10 years with the FBI’s espionage unit in the D.C. area.

Another major reason for attending the academy is for officers to establish networks of fellow officers from around the world.

“We’re meeting people from huge agencies like New York to small agencies like Scotts Bluff County,” Brown said. “We’re learning how they operate and how their agencies compare with us. That was a real education after classes when we’d just get together and talk shop.”

Brown’s roommate for the 10-week course was Dick Wong, a supervisor in charge of about 300 plainclothes officers in the Hong Kong Police Department.

“Policing in Hong Kong is the same as in America.” Brown said. “They don’t have a constitution like we have, but they do have their own version of a bill of rights. That’s because their judicial and law enforcement system is still old school Britain. The only thing that changed when China took over was the emblem on the police department hats. China has allowed Hong Kong to maintain their independence and judicial system.”

Because of networking, Brown now has friends around the world he can call on for advice on new equipment, policing in general and new developments in law enforcement. The class even has its own Facebook page for graduates to interact through.

Brown said the networking came in handy even while classes were going on. The trial over the death of Juliet Guertz was going on in Scotts Bluff County at the time. The child’s mother, Monica Guertz, was in San Antonio and was reluctant to return as a witness.

One of Brown’s classmates was with the sheriff’s office in Bexar County, where San Antonio is located. He contacted his office and the San Antonio Police Department to have the woman taken into custody until she could be transported back to Gering.

The academy is on the Marine Corps base at Quantico, where Drug Enforcement Agency headquarters is also located. Brown said that during the class, they got to tour the FBI training facility and meet some of its specialized teams, such as the hostage rescue team.

The elective classes Brown took were in the area of management and leadership. While the county sheriff is the political face of the department, the chief deputy is involved in developing work schedules, hiring deputies and managing the department’s budget.

Another of Brown’s classes was “Officers in Crisis,” where he studied the dynamics of suicide, alcoholism and other crises that law enforcement can possibly face. As part of course work, he also read the entire AA big book and attended some of their group meetings to find out how the group can help those who encounter a problem.
According to statistics, an average of 300 police officers commits suicide each year, higher than the number killed in violent incidents.

Networking was also an important part of the course. During the course, Brown got to know a wide variety of law enforcement personnel, including one who works in the Boston area and was a respondent after the Boston Marathon bombing.

Brown said graduation from the FBI National Academy is significant because so few people are chosen to attend. Plus, it’s a strong credential to put on the resume. In addition to certificates, graduates receive an academy pin and patches for their uniforms.

Commenting on all the recent media attention on law enforcement, Brown said police departments can get into trouble because they hold back on making investigation results public as soon as they’re available. That lack of information led to the riots in Ferguson, Mo.

“That’s what happened in Ferguson,” Brown said. “The police knew what happened within a couple of hours of the shooting, but didn’t share it with the media for about 15 weeks. In the meantime, rumors became the established story.”

He added the numbers of people who are genuinely angry with police are in the minority in the nation. “Maybe only about 10 percent of people are upset with law enforcement,” he said. “They’re the loudest, so they get all the attention. The rest of the population appreciates what we do for their communities and the sacrifices they make.”

Brown said a designated time to recognize the work of law enforcement officers is important because the public gets to see the police are just like them – a part of the community.

“It’s a tough line of work to be in,” he said. “Alcoholism in cops is high and so is suicide. A lot of it is because of what we encounter on the job. That’s why we have to be mentally prepared for whatever might happen.”

He added the fundamental question law enforcement officers need to answer is why they chose that line of work. “If someone is here only for a paycheck, they need to find another job. We need to be here to serve our families, our friends and our communities.”

Brown started in law enforcement in 1994 with the Gering Police Department. He joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1999 and became chief deputy in 2013.
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