ROCHESTER — A once in a lifetime experience at the FBI National Academy allowed a Rochester police officer to join a network of peers from across the globe.
Lt. Jason Thomas, 43, was one of three New Hampshire officers to attend the 10-week course. He was one of 221 officers from around the nation and the world to graduate from the 256th academy March 28.
“Less than one percent of officers across the country get to attend the National Academy,” Thomas said.
“It was probably the highlight of my career,” Thomas said, adding he took classes in contemporary media relations, stress management and interviewing strategies.
As the academy — located in Quantico, Va. — is partnered with the University of Virginia, Thomas said the classes were all at the undergraduate or graduate level.
He said the course was rigorous — both academically and physically — which allows the academy to “support and promote personal and professional development of law enforcement leaders.”
Thomas, who serves as a patrol supervisor, said he’s worked in the department for the past 23 years, including serving seven years as a police dispatcher. He added he hopes to be promoted to captain and take on new responsibilities and challenges.
While the majority of his classmates were fellow lieutenants, Thomas said there were a few who were captains or even police chiefs. He added most of the students were from small departments — like Rochester — but there were also officers from Los Angeles and New York City.
“We all learned from each other — everyone brought something to the table,” Thomas said.The class consisted of a mix of members — with an average of 19 years of experience — from different police departments, military organizations and federal agencies from 47 states and 23 nations, according to a release by the FBI National Academy.“Training for the program is provided by the FBI Academy instructional staff, special agents and other staff members holding advanced degrees, many of whom are recognized internationally in their fields of expertise,” according to the release.
Thomas said the most important benefit is being part of a network of fellow officers, who are accessible via e-mail. He added the partnerships he made during the class will allow him to continue to learn and share in the future.
Since it began in 1935, a total of 47,254 officers have graduated from the FBI National Academy and more than half are still active in law enforcement, according to the release.