When a difficult case or other issue comes up in Johnson County, a small list of law enforcement officers have a network of peers from around the world to ask for advice.
The local officers made those connections and gained knowledge on a wide range of topics from the prestigious FBI Academy, based in Quantico, Virginia.
Recently, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Duane Burgess, the county jail commander, graduated from the academy. He is one of seven officers at the county’s three largest police departments who have graduated from the program. He joins two fellow sheriff’s office employees, three Franklin officers and one Greenwood officer.
Each is tasked with bringing back what they learn in the 11-week course, which they said is similar to college.
Law enforcement officers spend their time writing papers, working out to make physical training requirements and taking a variety of classes in leadership, terrorism, investigations, leading at-risk employees and other human relations and law enforcement classes, Burgess said.
Burgess wrote papers on domestic terrorism and talked to his instructors who worked as law enforcement officers on the cases of the Boston Marathon bombing and the schoool shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
In some classes, officers reviewed how another police force investigated a crime and what techniques they used that might help other departments investigate the same types of crime, Burgess said.
Since his graduation in mid-January, he already has brought ideas that could help the sheriff’s office, Sheriff Doug Cox said.
Part of Burgess’ training at the academy was learning about new technology that could help the sheriff’s office, Cox said. For example, older records, dating back to the 1950s are being stored at a warehouse in Indianapolis.
Cox recommended that the sheriff’s office start using an employee management system Burgess learned about in the academy, he said. Cox is also a graduate of the FBI Academy.
“You are learning about things out there currently that can benefit the system,” Cox said.
Only 16 officers from Indiana can go each year, with four being accepted four times a year, Burgess said.
“There are a lot of officers in Indiana, so it is a prestigious school,” he said.
Nearly every officer has heard of the academy and pegged it as a stepping stone in their career since leadership and other skills are taught, Burgess said.
“I wanted to go back (to school) and get more knowledge to help me grow,” he said.
Since Cox graduated, he has used one of the skills he learned at the academy daily. He was dreading the public speaking class he had to take but has since used and values the lessons of openness and communication that he learned at the academy, he said.
“It was a huge plus for my career,” Cox said.
Franklin Police Department Sgt. John Borges used what he learned at the FBI Academy to help break down budgeting for the police department.
Classes at the academy taught him how to budget for major projects, how to budget an officer’s time on the road and when and how to budget for updating the department’s fleet of vehicles, which he has used in his career, including when he previously served as police chief.