Lt. Ray Whitfield graduates FBI AcademySep 30th, 2013 | By admin | Category: News
Even veteran police officers admit to getting a lump in their throat when they see the special ceremony at the FBI National Training Academy honoring children of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
It had the same effect on Lt. Ray Whitfield of the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Whitfield recently became the 19th St. Bernard Parish deputy to be accepted into and graduate the prestigious FBI National Training Academy in Quantico, Va., participating in the 253rd session since it was established in 1935.
The FBI National Academy is a professional course of study for U.S. and international law enforcement leaders that serves to improve the administration of justice and promote personal and professional development of officers. Only ranking officers from a department are accepted. It is a 10-week course of study, combined with grueling physical training including running.
“Overall, it was a great experience,’’ said Whitfield, who started with the Sheriff’s Office in 1991 and has worked in the Patrol Division and as a detective in the Criminal Investigation Bureau.
“Every class you took offered something. And your goal is to take back something you can use in your job.’’
There were 218 members of the session, including 194 officers from American law enforcement agencies, three of whom were from Louisiana, including Whitfield and officers from the JeffersonParish Sheriff’s Office and Baton Rouge Police Department. Twenty-four others were from police agencies in other nations. Whitfield said the experience was made better by the chance to see the visit to the training academy by dozens of children of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty.
Many were 5-10 years old, although some were in their late teens, he said.
“Each had on a T-shirt with a photo of the deceased parent,’’ Whitfield said. “They line you up on both sides of the main building’’ to greet the survivors, he said. “When they are walking down the aisle you shake their hands and after a few pass you focus in on the fact each one has lost a parent who was a cop and died in the line of duty.”
Whitfield admitted it is emotional. “It gets to you. Automatically you see your own children and think about them.” Then the officers interact with the visitors, he said.
Sheriff James Pohlmann, who is among the department’s graduates of the FBI Training Academy, also attended a session when children of slain police visited and he describes it as heart-tugging
Whitfield said the survivors’ event is one of the things that make attending the training session so special, along with the classes of study and the people from other departments officers meet and get to know. It is a chance to hear from others, including the foreign officers, he said, and make contacts to talk with in the future.
“You compare stories’’ about law enforcement, some of which are very different from experiences you have had, Whitfield said.
“One man from Senegal was a police captain and we were talking about different crime investigations,’’ Whitfield said.“He said that in Senegal they have to deal with sacrifices of animals or even human sacrifices for good luck.’’
“People may disappear during elections, for instance, and their bodies are later found and they have been killed for the purpose of bringing someone luck,’’ Whitfield said he was told.
“I’m like ‘this is unbelievable’ but he was talking about it happening,’’ Whitfield said.
“Whenever you think you’ve heard it all in police work,’’ he said, “someone tells a story like that and it’s crazy.’’ He said courses and visiting speakers make the sessions memorable.
“There was a homicide management course and a class concentrating on drug cartels and gangs,’’ Whitfield said, “and how leaders who are in prison run their crime networks using cryptic messages to get orders out.’’
“We heard from the Captain of the U.S.S. Cole (an American ship damaged by a terrorist attack, with heavy loss of life) and he gave an account of what happened,’’ Whitfield said. “We also heard from Bobby Smith, a Louisiana State Trooper who was shot in the face and blinded. He went on to get a Ph.D. and has toured the world. His story is amazing.’’
Sheriff Pohlmann said Whitfield was a worthy selection to attend the FBI training and also said that for a relatively small department like St. Bernard’s to have had 19 officers selected is a real compliment.