Dec 2, 2012
I have less than two weeks left at the FBI National Academy before I get to go home and see my family for the first time in eleven weeks. I can’t wait, and I am really looking forward to being at home with my family for Christmas. At the same time, this has been such a great experience that I know I will miss it and my new friends when it is over.
Over the two weeks or so since my last update, we have completed all but our last physical challenge. The class went on our five-mile run last Wednesday anticipating temperatures in the low 30s, but was rewarded with a relatively balmy 39 degrees on a very nice morning. The last challenge is the actual Yellow Brick Road. We got our briefing on the obstacles we will encounter on the approximately 3-mile section on the Marine Corps’ Endurance Course. It looks like fun, and not too challenging since we will probably get backed up as all of us try to negotiate some of the rope climbs up and descents down the rock walls. Once we complete the Endurance Course we get to run the 3+ miles back to the FBI Academy. Once again, it should be fun since we get to run at our own pace. Like many of the aspects in this program, and in life, you get out of it what you put into it. The point of these challenges has been to push yourself rather than adhering to a set time standard. I wasn’t sure I liked that strategy at first, but with a group of 262 people of varying abilities, ranging in age from the 30’s to the 50’s, it is probably a very good way to do it.
I also finished my 34 miles of swimming shortly after my last post, completing the “Blue Brick” challenge. I’ll get both bricks this week and have to figure out how to get them home without going over my luggage weight limit. Flat rate shipping here I come! It is nice to have the swimming done, mainly because it took quite a bit of time. I’ve been a swimmer my whole life and knew I would finish the challenge without much difficulty, but it was great to see some of my
friends who are not as comfortable in the water improve their abilities and persevere to earn their blue bricks. I admire their “never quit” attitude and achievement.
Academically, my papers and speeches are all complete. I have one presentation and a final exam tomorrow, and one last extemporaneous speech sometime later this week. The academic highlight of the program for me has been my class on Intelligence Theory and Application for Law Enforcement Managers. The course has covered law enforcement’s use of intelligence and how we can analyze and use information to guide our efforts in directing resources to prevent and solve crimes. We had a guest instructor last week from Michigan State University who put on a four-hour block of instruction on critical thinking. It was a very interesting class, applicable to many aspects of life, not just government and law enforcement. We discussed how a lack of critical thinking led to large-scale intelligence failures before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. We also conducted a critical thinking case study of an arson-murder investigation in the U.S. in which a father was convicted of killing his daughters based on arson indicators found at the fire scene. The indicators had not been tested, but were identified based on many investigators’ experiences over the years. Later experiments showed that some of these “indicators” could not be relied on to identify arson as the cause of a fire. Data is important, but so is a thorough and critical analysis of the data. One of the instructors’ points was that critical thinking is not a natural skill. In fact, we are rewarded in society for our ability to make quick decisions when in many (non-emergency) cases we should take our time to ask questions before jumping to the answer.
The unfortunate part about that class was that it took place from 4-6pm last Friday, so I did not get a chance to visit with Detective Chris Mahurin, one of our Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Detectives who was in Washington D.C. at the invitation and expense of a non-profit agency so he could attend a conference on Human Trafficking. Chris has been doing great work at SRPD and got the attention of this group, who offered to fly him to D.C. and pay his expenses to attend the conference and network with people there. Great work Chris! I love seeing SRPD recognized as leaders in law enforcement.
Last week we continued our enrichment lecture series when we were privileged to meet and listen to Michael Durant. For those who have not read or watched Blackhawk Down, Mr. Durant was a Chief Warrant Officer and U.S. Army helicopter pilot with the famed 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. He was shot down over Mogadishu, Somalia during Operation Restore Hope in 1993. He was severely wounded, and the only survivor of his helicopter crew. Two operators from the 1st Special Operations Force, Delta (Delta Force) volunteered to go in by themselves to protect the crew of Durant’s helicopter against a large, armed, and hostile crowd of Somalis. Both were killed and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Their names were Gary Gordon and Randy Shugart. Somali warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid’s forces brutally beat and held Mr. Durant captive for 11 days before releasing him to US forces. He gave an excellent presentation on the successes and especially the failures of our efforts in Somalia. He talked about his experiences and leadership lessons from the operation.
It is late here, so I’ll sign off for now.
Lt. Craig Schwartz of Santa Rosa Police Department
posted his experiences at the FBI National Academy on Facebook.