Sergeant Matthew T. Bach of the Rice Lake Police Department graduated from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia on Dec. 20. 

Bach joined 257 other law professionals, military members, and civilians from around the country and the world.

Less than 1% of law enforcement is selected and completes the National Academy, according to the RLPD.

States’ participation is determined by their per capita, meaning Texas and California send many more students than Montana. Wisconsin sends four students to each of the Academy’s quarterly classes. 

RLPD Chief Steve Roux graduated from the Academy in 2011 and calls it a highlight of his career. 

Students take 17 college credits through the University of Virginia during the 10-week program. 

The college vibe extends to the dorm rooms where four students share two rooms and one bathroom, and the cafeteria food becomes bland by week 5. 

But, Bach said, the atmosphere was more tidy and structured than a semester at Animal House.

But not too structured.

The program allowed students the opportunity to slow down and think about where they and their organizations want to be in the future. 

“Sometimes when you have time to think, you get some really good ideas,” Roux said.

One idea Bach wants to implement at RLPD is an officer wellness program that not only covers physical fitness standards but also mental fitness.

The Academy included a solid portion of physical fitness. Students were required to run the mile on the second day of class, but due to classes scheduling still being fluid, Bach got to take P.E. twice that day. 

Groups of 50 students participated in P.E. three to four times a week, he said, with the main event being Wednesday’s fitness challenges. 

The final challenge included a temperature of 38˚, rain, a 3-mile hike through an obstacle course of ropes, cargo nets and balance beams and a 3-mile run. 

At the finish line, runners were given a gold-painted brick inscribed with their class number—278th for Bach’s class.

Broadening horizons

The National Academy was initiated in 1935 and has adapted its programing to meet the needs of law enforcement through the decades. 

Bach and Roux agreed that the course gives a global perspective on law enforcement  and professionalism through education, networking and historical perspective. 

Class offerings include leadership, drug education, media relations, terrorism mind-set and law.

Bach took two law classes that concentrated on the 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments, and employment laws.

The networking provides a sounding board of thousands of professionals for everything from beard-trimming regulations to the apprehension of criminals.

When not in the classroom, studying or running miles, students were shown the area’s historic sites. 

There was still time for Bach to Facetime with his wife and kids as soon as the Wi-Fi “mysteriously” becomes available around 6:30 p.m. 

Bach’s graduation and experiences have put him  in the running for the department’s new Captain position, but for now he is back patrolling, including on New Year’s Eve.

(Copyright © 2020 APG Media)

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