THE LUCKY LAUERS: A FBI National Academy Odyssey
Author: Ray Lauer
Photo L-R: Mike Lauer, Paul Lauer and Ray Lauer
This is a story that legacies are made of. Three individuals, a father and his two sons. They all dedicated their law enforcement career to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and all attended the FBI National Academy 21 years apart. There are also future Lauers in the midst to follow in their grandfather’s and father’s footsteps. Meet the Lauer family of the Eastern Missouri Chapter.
Ray Lauer began his employment with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department in July 1956 when, as a high school graduate a month earlier, he was hired to work as a clerk in one of the district stations. In those days before the inauguration of computers, police officers prepared their reports in handwritten form and then submitted those documents to the clerk who, using a manual typewriter, transformed the reports for eventual shipment to police headquarters for inclusion in the official files.
From that inauspicious beginning, he later was appointed a probationary police officer, graduated from the police academy in early 1961 and then as time passed was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 1969.
While holding that rank there were a variety of assignments and eventually he was placed in charge of the Private Watchman Division, the unit responsible for processing the applications, providing training and licensing the more than 4000 private guards who worked in the City of St. Louis.
Then the beginning of a life changing event occurred one day in January 1975. While working in the office a telephone call was received from the aide to the chief of police and summoning Ray immediately to the office of the chief, Colonel Eugene J. Camp.
When he was taken in to the chief’s office, Ray was handed a sheaf of papers and told to complete the questions in those papers. Without looking at what had been given to him, he inquired about the file and Chief Camp simply said he wanted Ray to attend the FBI National Academy.
The chief himself had never attended the National Academy, but he realized the value of attendance at the National Academy (NA) for his subordinates in the police department. He had a very close relationship with those assigned to the FBI office in St. Louis, especially with Agent ST Johnson who served as the liaison with all the local police departments. That friendship allowed for four members of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to attend National Academy sessions annually, one each session, for several years running. For that reason a number of sergeants and lieutenants had petitioned the chief for consideration for assignment to the NA. Certainly Ray was not one of those individuals.
Having never dreamt to be considered for attendance at this prestigious program he was completely and overwhelmingly surprised to be summoned to the chief’s office. He and his wife, Bev, of 10 years were the parents of three young children, but they realized what a unique opportunity this was that came only once in a lifetime. He was appreciative to Chief Camp’s decision to send him.
The questionnaire was quickly completed and submitted to ST and the background investigation was conducted faster than he would have ever anticipated. Within a short amount of time, Ray was interviewed by the Special Agent in Charge, Wes Whaley, and soon received the notification that his application was approved for acceptance.
In what truly proved to be a whirlwind experience. Ray boarded a TWA plane in early April 1975 and headed to the National Academy, accepted as a proud member of Session 101. Being away from home and family for three months seemed like eons at the time, but in actuality the time flew by and June arrived as well as the graduation date. During that period the session qualified on the firearms range, shooting several days each week. The fitness program consisted of workouts in the gym and jogging around the academy grounds, as well as calisthenics under the guidance of the fitness director on the area which was known as Gump’s Hump. He thought the meals were outstanding, and of course at the end of the day, relaxation was welcomed in the Board Room.
There were no trips home during that time at the NA, but his wife and three children were able to travel to Quantico for the graduation.
Once back in the work realm of the police department, within several years Ray was promoted by Chief Camp to the rank of lieutenant. In the subsequent other promotions, after Chief Camp’s retirement, eventually he was elevated to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He felt having attained those advancements were related at least in part due to the exposure to the curriculum and graduation from the FBI National Academy.
When their two oldest sons, Mike and Paul, reached their 21st birthdays, thus attaining the age for qualification they applied for and were accepted as members of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. But who could have known then the odyssey of the Lauers would direct both of them toward the NA?
One day in 1996, Mike, having attained the rank of sergeant, was informed by then Chief Clarence Harmon that he was being nominated for attendance at the NA. Once his application had been submitted and the background investigation completed Mike was off to Quantico. He finished his schooling and graduated from Session 185. 21 years had passed since his dad’s attendance. By this time the fitness portion of the curriculum allowed attendees to qualify for a special award. The daunting and demanding fitness test known as the Yellow Brick Road was passed by Mike. When graduation day came Mike traveled home with his Yellow Brick. Mike’s most memorable experience was the friendships that were developed and the focus on health that he now patterns his life after. During Mike’s Yellow Brick Road run one of his session mates died suddenly of a heart attack. He holds his memories dear to him as that tragedy bonded his classmates together very closely.
By this time the Lauer clan had blossomed to four children. Mike’s three siblings, his parents, and their spouses and children were all able to be present for the graduation ceremony. Understandably the Lauers were extremely proud that Mike had excelled in his studies at Quantico and was able to participate in the Yellow Brick Road.
Mike retired as a lieutenant after 20 years of service in the police department and was hired as the Director of Security for Barnes –Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, a sprawling complex of buildings, parking facilities; a university connected training hospital and the busiest emergency department in the entire region. Currently he is the Executive Director of Support Services over Public Safety, Communications, Emergency Preparedness, Environmental and Occupational Health and other services. No doubt a degree of consideration when he interviewed for that position was related to attendance at the National Academy and his involvement in the local chapter.
Mike’s advice to those wishing to attend the NA is to display your innate leadership abilities, take steps into leadership roles when they are presented and by being recognized as a leader on your department your aspirations will turn into reality.
One may think that could be the end of the Lauer family attendance at Quantico. But it was not.
Twenty-one years after Mike’s graduation, Paul, now a lieutenant in St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department was approached one day by then Interim Chief Lawrence O’Toole and was told to “get in shape” as he intended to nominate him to attend the NA. That was on a Sunday in May of 2017 and two days later Interim Chief O’Toole handed him a sheaf of papers, telling him to complete them and submit the documents to the local FBI office. Simultaneously he inquired of Paul if he had gotten in shape since he would be expected to participate and complete not only the study program but the strenuous physical program as well.
Paul would be the first to admit that he wasn’t accustomed to having an exercising regimen, but listening to the advice of his brother Mike, who is an avid runner and who exercises nearly daily, he began his workouts and dieting to help reduce his weight and “get in shape”. In the intervening weeks of the 270th Session he found success in this new regimen, losing more than 30 pounds in the subsequent months to his departure for Quantico. In October 2017 Paul departed for his training effort. Graduation took place just before Christmas. Paul’s wife and two children were in attendance, as were his father, mother, and brothers. President Donald Trump was the principal speaker and he received a rousing welcome. It had been decades since a president had traveled to the National Academy for a graduation ceremony. The president was joined on stage by FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The day before graduation, Paul, who had worked extremely hard in the physical fitness regimen, was awarded his Yellow Brick. Seeing the video to the strenuous and daunting program, climbing steep hills, doing pull ups and performing other tasks to qualify for the Yellow Brick, showed how the fitness program had evolved since Ray attended the 101st Session. Paul’s highlights included the trip to New York and also shaving 43 seconds off of his mile run. He encourages individuals to get in shape in the event they are selected to attend.
So after the first member of the Lauer family was privileged to be selected to attend the prestigious FBI National Academy, two of his sons were also allowed to be exposed to this highly reputable law enforcement training initiative, all having an intervening 21 year span between their attendance.
Both Ray and Mike became active members of the Eastern Missouri Chapter of the FBI NA Associates. Ray was elected chapter president in 1994 and Mike was allowed to hold that position in 2005. In 2010 Ray received the coveted Eagle Award for his leadership and contributions to the Eastern Missouri Chapter.
As far as we are able to determine there has never been a father and two sons allowed the privilege of attending and graduating from the National Academy. Mike’s son, Zachary Lauer started working as a dispatcher for the St. Louis County Police Department in 2017 and hopes to enter the police academy in 2019. Paul’s son, Kyle, is almost 15 years old. He is currently a police explorer and interested in joining the police force one day. He is also applying for the Youth Leadership Program. Who can even fathom what the future may hold?
About The Lauers:
Ray Lauer retired as Lieutenant Colonel-Deputy Chief with the St. Louis Metro Police, NA Session #101 (1975)
Mike Lauer retired as a Lieutenant with the St. Louis Metro Police and is currently Executive Director of Security for The Barnes Jewish Hospital, NA Session #185 (1996)
Paul Lauer is a Lieutenant with the St. Louis Metro Police, NA Session #270 (2017)
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