BY SCOTT DUMAS
It’s almost three quarters through my Presidential year and we just completed what I feel is the most important gathering that takes place each year, the annual Chapter officers meeting. Each year, two chapter officers, (usually the Chapter President and Secretary Treasurer) from each of the 44 domestic and 4 international chapters, are flown to the FBI Academy to discuss Association business. You read that correctly, they are flown to the FBI Academy. I mention that because outside of the chapter officers, many of our members do not realize that the FBI picks up the tab for this important business meeting. They pay for the flights, a per diem rate, and put us up in the academy. During our stay the entire training division, led by Assistant Director Dave Resch, bends over backwards to accommodate whatever our needs may be. This year we were also treated to a fieldtrip up to the J Edgar Hoover building and were able to re-live many of the cases that the FBI and local law enforcement collaborated on. That’s how important the relationship with the National Academy Associates means to the FBI and that’s why they refer to the National Academy as their crown jewel. The FBI as an organization is going through a tough time right now. Anyone who has ever carried a badge can relate to the fact the actions or perceived actions of a few, is painted with a broad brush. When you see one of your brothers or sisters in the Bureau, please let them know you have their back.
During our time at the Chapter officers meeting we also honored four martyrs. New Deputy Director, Dave Bowdich, came down from headquarters to take part in our Hall of Honor ceremony. The FBI National Academy represents so much; Leadership, Strength, Education, and Sacrifice. While we all have given, some have given it all. We celebrated the lives of four men, Francisco J. Cisneros Prieto of the 180th session, Clinton F. Greenwood of the 263rd session, Patrick N. Weatherford also of the 263rd session, and James W. Baber of the 33rd session. Each of these men died in the line of duty in the face of adversarial action and each will be remembered, in perpetuity, as a plaque was hung in our Hall of Honor, in remembrance of their duty and of their service. It was an honor to preside over this service as this Associations President and I committed to the families, on behalf of the entire FBI National Academy Associates, that although there are no words that can fill the void that has been left in their lives, please know there are over 17,000 FBI National Academy graduates that stand at the ready to assist them all through this, in any way we can.
I recently was afforded the opportunity to attend the Latin America/Caribbean conference which was held in Panama City, Panama. There were twenty three countries represented at the conference. Chapter President Oris Jaen, 204th session, Rolando Villarreal, 260th session, and the entire Panamanian National Police Department rolled out the red carpet for all attendees. Our first day of training consisted of a discussion on Leadership, Police Corruption, and Ethics. It was followed by a visit out to the Miraflores Locks on the Panama Canal and a familiarization on the security required on the Canal, which affects all of the world’s commerce. The following day did one better, after our morning challenge run, we again headed out to the canal and this time boarded a ferry. We experienced a three class rotation on a gang case study in Puerto Rico, social media exploitation, and security issues affecting the Panama Canal, all while traveling through two of the locks. That is the way training is meant to be done! I urge you all to try and take in an international conference. With some local exceptions, the training is universal but is brought from a different perspective. Upcoming international conferences will be in Nairobi, Kenya; Helsinki, Finland; New Dehli, India; and Nassau, Bahamas. Check out our website for specific dates.
An area of discussion I have brought up in other articles and talked about at length at the chapter officers meeting was my desire to get our Association, not just involved, but strongly committed to the Below 100 initiative. The Mission of Below 100 is to reduce the line of duty deaths to fewer than 100 per year. Their Vision is to permanently eliminate preventable line of duty deaths and injuries through innovative training and awareness designed to focus on areas under an officer’s control. They have identified five tenets to be followed towards that end. 1. Wear Your Belt, 2. Wear Your Vest, 3.Watch Your Speed, 4. WIN – What’s Important Now? 5. Remember, Complacency Kills. The FBI National Academy Associates are uniquely designed with their 44 domestic and 4 international chapters to not only disperse this training but to help change a culture that may exist by making a commitment to officer safety and wellness. In 2015, Kim Schlau, whose two daughters were killed when an Illinois State Trooper crashed into them traveling at 126 MPH, came and spoke at the FBI National Academy during the 260th session. Undersheriff Rob Beidler was in that class. Kim’s story struck a chord with Rob and he took it back to his Sheriff after graduation and implemented the Below 100’s five tenets. The results were impactful. This was just one agency that met the challenge and stood committed. Imagine the impact we could have on our profession if we all did. http://www.newsofmillcreek.com/content/snohomish-county-sheriff%E2%80%99s-office-receives-national-officer-traffic-safety-award.
Lastly, in 1971 Officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones were gunned down in a Harlem neighborhood in NY City simply because of the uniform that they wore. Their killer, Herman Bell, who a month after this shooting played a role in the shooting death of Sergeant John Young of the San Francisco police department, was recently paroled after serving 44 years in prison. Officer Jones was killed instantly with a single shot to the head while Officer Piagentini was shot 22 times, reportedly begging for his life. Many have described this decision by the parole board as indefensible and I certainly count myself among them. The local CBS news station did a poll on the parole board’s decision, with over 6,100 responders. What I found most troubling was that 86% of those that responded agreed with the decision. Granted, this was not a scientific poll but the results were telling. They told me that we, as a profession, continue to allow others to tell our story and this I feel, we cannot allow to continue. Long time National Academy instructor, Lt. Col. Jim Vance used to state, “Law enforcement has a great story to tell, we just do a lousy job at telling it”. I believe our ineffective efforts at telling our story have promulgated the effect illustrated by the poll. I would like to tell our story better.
Lieutenant Ken Kanger, 262nd session, of the City of Omaha police department presented a challenge to me in response to the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida that I present to each one of you. It was a challenge of outreach to our most vulnerable from all of our members, active and retired, but its affect can be far reaching.
We encourage members, active and retired, to make more of a concerted effort to visit the schools, daily or weekly, depending on what your schedule allows. I know we have thousands of retired officers that want to make a difference. There is talk about hiring law enforcement to work in schools and maybe military. I know there are retired officers that would volunteer at lunch hour, at recess, to read or talk to kids. That not only makes the schools safer but reinforces the engagement and relationships we want to, and need to build. With your reinforcement, the Community Engagement Committee's support, and Youth Programming subcommittee's encouragement we can send a strong message to these kids that are hurt, traumatized, and some scared.
This is what we do every day; we just don’t talk about it. Let’s start telling our story; stop in on a school, visit a business, take part in the local community group, but memorialize it, take a picture, tweet if out. Maybe then, when Herman Bell’s co-defendant, Anthony Bottom’s parole hearing comes up in June, we may have gotten back just a sliver of respect for the job each of you do.
Be safe, be strong, be vigilant, and be proud!
Scott A. Dumas
President FBI NAA
Rowley, Massachusetts Police Department
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