September 8, 2013

Georgia sheriff looking forward to FBI Academy

Associated Press

— The FBI Academy that Floyd County Sheriff Tim Burkhalter will attend later this year is grueling.

But the academy, housed in Quantico, Va., is something Burkhalter has dreamed about visiting for years.

The entry bar is tough for law enforcement. Attendees must be nominated by a Federal Bureau of Investigation employee before they can attend the 12-week course.

Then there’s the regimen, both in the classroom and outside.

“You have to do a lot of physical work,” Burkhalter said.

Burkhalter leaves for the academy in September. He’ll return in early December after completing a series of classes ranging from networking to arson investigations.

The sheriff is highly anticipating one class — the psychosocial behavior, mindset and intelligence trends of violent street/prison gangs.

“Which is something we really want to know about,” Burkhalter said.

The FBI pays for law enforcement personnel to attend the academy, which is on a Marine Corps base. Burkhalter said he’ll sleep in a dorm, and be treated like a cadet.

“It’s all about networking and learning from others — ideas on leadership,” Burkhalter said.

The sheriff will stay in touch with his command staff by phone. He’ll also “attend” staff meetings via Skype, a teleconferencing program.

According to deputy Jerry Duke, less than 1 percent of law enforcement personnel across the world receive invitations to study at the Virginia academy. Two of Burkhalter’s team already have attended the training: Chief Deputy Tom Caldwell and Capt. Bobby Pearson.

Rome Police Chief Elaine Snow is another local who’s attended the academy. A 1985 graduate of the FBI Academy, Snow took classes about budgeting and leadership. She also completed rigorous physical training.

“It is exhilarating,” Snow said. “It is extremely rewarding when you finish that.”

Snow said the bonds she formed with other students have lasted over the years since she completed the academy. She can email a former academy colleague about an issue, and receive a response almost immediately.

“You don’t have that anywhere else,” she said. “It’s the best level of training I’ve ever had at one time.”

According to the academy’s website, its mission is “to support, promote, and enhance the personal and professional development of law enforcement leaders by preparing them for complex, dynamic, and contemporary challenges through innovative techniques, facilitating excellence in education and research, and forging partnerships throughout the world.”