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Training at the elite Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Academy is an opportunity offered only to select upper-level law enforcement personnel. The three-month training sessions, said current Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington, offer cutting-edge classes, insight into the present and future of law enforcement, and the training is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The National Academy focuses on police officers who are in a position to help guide their departments for the next several decades, he said.
The FBI vets nominees to the National Academy “to make sure the person nominated meets their standards of integrity and physical fitness,” said Chief Eddington, who attended the National Academy as a patrol lieutenant in Roselle in 1986.
“They are looking to make long-term investments in police officers who will shape the police department for at least two generations,” he added.
Since 1935, the FBI National Academy has provided such formal training. Before that, writes FBI National Academy Historian Richard Amiott in the FBI National Academy’s 75th Anniversary compendium, “little or no formal training was available in the science of local law enforcement.” The National Academy, he says, “continues to be the most elite law enforcement training academy in the world. Men and women from more than 178 countries (and U.S. territories) and all 50 states” have been trained there.
Several members of the Evanston Police Department, extending back to retired Police Chief William Logan, have attended the academy. The RoundTable asked Chief Eddington, Chief Logan and Chief Frank Kaminski about their experiences at the FBI academy. Frank Kaminski, though retired from the Evanston Police Department, is chief of the Park Ridge Police.
“The overall philosophy is one of quality instruction,” said Chief Eddington. “They’re pretty sophisticated teachers. It is a premier assignment for those FBI agents who teach at the Academy. They understand that they are teaching state, local and county police officers. They tailor what they’re presenting to local law enforcement.” The National Academy’s way of presenting material is unique – “bringing real-world examples, exposing police officers to the best and brightest minds. A brain trust [is] literally at your disposal while you’re there: You have the world’s most sophisticated law enforcement agency at your disposal to answer your questions. [Officers can] bring ideas back and enhance them,” he said.
Each of the three Evanston police chiefs attended the National Academy several years before becoming Chief of Police but said the classes provided training and insight that proved valuable in the top leadership position. The courses in management and leadership taught strategies that improved public safety and benefited the community of Evanston, they said.
“It is probably one of the best experiences [police executives] can go through,” said Chief Kaminski, who attended the National Academy in 1988 as a deputy police chief in Evanston.
Among the 250 people in his class, he said, “were people from all over the world. … I talked to police officials from Ireland about how they managed the ‘Troubles,’” he said.
Chief Kaminski said he “took courses to develop leadership skills. They really emphasized leadership training. I stuck with trying to develop [that]. This was the 1980s. The management style [was developed through] self-analysis and examinations of what good leaders are.”
Chief Logan, who attended the FBI Academy in 1970 as a captain in the Evanston Police Department, took several classes in “management supervision – showing how to build support for changes in your organization,” he said.
Classes in labor management and leadership/decision-making were Chief Eddington’s “favorites,” he said. Community policing was just coming into existence, he said, and the academy helped him recognize “how, as astute leaders, you had to [anticipate and address] divisions in the community. You have to pick and choose what ideas you are ready to implement and [ones] that the department is receptive to. You need to build consensus and coalition. Police departments tend to be very traditional, and adaptations are needed – by the police department and by the citizens too. You have to predict the upside for them.”
Applying Leadership Strategies
When William Logan became Evanston Chief of Police in 1984, he implemented some of the leadership strategies he had learned at the National Academy, he said. He met with everyone in the department; he made himself available to the press; he added professional development for staff; and he reached out to the community.
The FBI “felt strongly that law enforcement has to reach out to the community. That really helped me when I became chief,” Chief Logan said.
Physical fitness, stress management and staff development were on his immediate agenda. “When I became chief I had a physical fitness program for officers, held at ETHS. We had a doctor who measured and checked blood pressure, etc.,” he said.
In addition, said Chief Logan, “the FBI felt it was important to meet with the press, to have a better relationship. I met with the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Evanston Review. What I did was assign one of my officers, Frank Kaminski, to deal with the press. It really improved the level of communication.”
Also, and just as important, Chief Logan said, in his early days as chief, he “met with everyone in the police department individually – sworn officers and civilians – to find out what their concerns were and to let them know my goals.”
After he graduated from the National Academy, but while he was still a captain, he was put in charge of a program he had studied at the Academy but which was relatively new to Evanston: the victim/
Chief Kaminski said, “Bill Logan was a leader in how we treat victims.”
Another aspect of leadership, said Chief Kaminski, was “understanding the impact of the job on the individual officers. We are doing some things routinely now that were new then: peer supports, police chaplains, learning how to take care of our employees.”
In his classes, Chief Eddington said, “we spent a lot of time on Supreme Court cases, especially those dealing with search-and-seizure. The thing I was most happy with was burglary suppression.” He learned “some things about burglary suppression” and was able to implement those strategies, he said, and the community saw a 50% reduction in residential burglaries.
Community policing, virtually unheard of in the 1970s, was coming on the horizon in the mid- to late 1980s.
“Community policing was just starting in 1986,” said Chief Eddington. “When I went to the National Academy, we were still dealing with the 1969 report on law enforcement.” He added, though, “The FBI has always been astute about picking up on issues.”
Just a few years later, in 1988, said Chief Kaminski, “we talked about community policing. At that time we were moving [to it] from the professional model of policing. It was interesting to go to the FBI Academy and see those things [such as community policing, victim/witness treatment, looking out for employees, staff development] in transition – to see [now in place] a lot of things that we talked about and thought about.”
The ‘Bad Guys’
As early as 1970, said Chief Logan, the academy ran a program on terrorism.
“There was also a discussion of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King,” he said. When Dr. King visited Evanston in 1963, then-Officer Logan was assigned to be one of his bodyguards.
“The FBI agent who went to Europe to bring back James Earl Ray [the assassin of Dr. King] [talked about it.] … It was very interesting to go over that scenario,” he said.
Chief Kaminski said he particularly remembers courses on “the future of policing. In the 1980s they talked about terrorism – but that was not at the pinnacle [of awareness]. They said terrorism would significantly increase in the future. And they talked about cyber-crime. They predicted that we would be [dealing with] computer crimes. And they were right on the money.”
The level of sophistication on both sides of the law keeps escalating, said Chief Eddington. “The words ‘identity theft’ didn’t exist when I went to went to the National Academy. Crime has changed; the level of sophistication has changed. Our techniques have changed. Look at the differences in personal technology: Offenders are using that level. As we become more sophisticated, then they become more sophisticated – [in] a never-ending leap-frog. Law enforcement is hustling to attempt to keep up.”
“The idea that law enforcement is a community effort was emphasized at the National Academy. The FBI wanted to be partners [with local law enforcement] and operate together,” said Chief Kaminski.
Chief Eddington echoed that comment. “There’s always been an effort to address that territoriality. When J. Edgar Hoover started this [there was not always trust in local law enforcement] and the FBI was always stand-offish with local officers,” he said. Now, he said, with the FBI Academy and background checks, “if the FBI shows up [on a case] they are likely to talk with an Academy graduate, because that police officer has already been vetted.” That shared experience began to break down obstructive territory issues.
Cooperation among law enforcement agencies is more common now, said Chief Eddington, and it continues to be fostered by this training. In addition, he said, “the FBI has siphoned off so many resources into analysis and terrorism that [they rely more on local law enforcement to help out with federal crimes]. Agendas change. Missions change.
“[The Evanston Police Department has] a significant number of undercover operations with the FBI, the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) departments. It’s federal sentencing we’re after,” said Chief Eddington. A person sentenced under the federal guidelines will serve 85% of his sentence, he said; a person sentenced in Illinois, only about half.
“This really changes the dynamics post-arrest,” said Chief Eddington.
Many communities do not choose to have their officers attend the National Academy, said Chief Kaminski. “We haven’t been developing leaders for succession planning. We are short on resources. It’s tough to send people away for three months.” A police officer attending the FBI academy is still on salary from the local department.
Yet, said Chief Eddington, training at the National Academy and cooperation among law-enforcement teams “pay public safety dividends for the citizens of Evanston.”