East Grand Rapids Public Safety Department Captain Ric Buikema was among 230 law enforcement officers who recently graduated from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
Internationally known for its academic excellence, the National Academy offers 10 weeks of advanced investigative, management and fitness training for selected officers having proven records as professionals within their agencies.
The 265th session of the National Academy consisted of men and women from 47 states. The class included members of law enforcement agencies from the District of Columbia, 24 international countries, three military organizations and four federal civilian organizations.
“The opportunity to build connections with other officers from around the world was an invaluable experience for me,” Buikema said. “These relationships will help us to share and develop best practices with agencies around the world to better serve our residents.”
During the course of the academy, various speakers, including FBI Director James Comey, offered presentations and lectures to the attendees.
The Quantico Marine Corps base, where the academy is held, provided a unique backdrop for the program. In addition to being an active Marine base, the site is also where the FBI trains new agents.
“I was able to meet the new agents who will be coming to the Grand Rapids field office,” Buikema continued. “We got to talk and exchange information, which was beneficial to develop working relationships with the new agents we will be working with.”
Beyond the classroom work, which is accredited through the University of Virginia, there was a great emphasis placed on the importance of physical fitness and proper nutrition. Attendees were required to complete weekly physical challenges including road runs and circuit training. The physical challenges culminated by completing a six-mile Marine Corps endurance course known as “The Yellow Brick Road.”
Buikema was just one of five attendees from Michigan and is the first officer to attend from East Grand Rapids Public Safety in more than 12 years. Local FBI Field Offices nominate candidates for the academy, which is offered at no cost to participants.
“I am incredibly honored to have been selected for the academy,” Buikema said. “It was a long time to be away from home, but it was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The entire program exceeded my expectations – and shaking Director Comey’s hand at graduation was just an added bonus.”