If there is one thing Lt. Brett Holmes learned while training at the FBI National Academy, it is Cullman County’s criminal problems are not unique.

“All 50 states and 23 countries were represented ... everybody is having their problems with meth and property crimes,” Holmes said. “My roommate was from a Caribbean island. He talked about locally ... he has problems with drugs and problems with thefts.”

Last week, Holmes became the first Cullman County Sheriff’s deputy to graduate from the 10-week-long academy, which is held in Quantico, Va. He is only the fifth law enforcement agent in the county to graduate from the program. The patrol supervisor for the sheriff office’s west district, Holmes has worked in law enforcement for 10 years.

“We are very proud of this accomplishment and very proud to send him,” said Cullman Sheriff Tyler Roden, who is one of the five academy graduates. “It’s a trend we want to continue at the sheriff’s office because this training is perhaps the best local law enforcement can receive in the country.”

According to the official FBI website, the national academy is a professional course of study for U.S. and international law enforcement leaders. It serves to improve the administration of justice in police departments and agencies at home and abroad and to raise law enforcement standards, knowledge, and cooperation worldwide.

Law enforcement agents take undergraduate and or graduate college courses in law, behavioral science, forensic science, understanding terrorism/terrorist mindsets, leadership development, communication, and health and fitness. Officers also participate in a wide range of specialized leadership specialized training.

To Holmes, the most important training he learned at the academy involved leadership skill development.

“They teach you about self-development and more effective ways to run the office,” Holmes said. “It (training) will help me in my position to be more effective.”

In addition to college classes, each participant must also engage in physical fitness training, which culminates with the 6.1-mile course designed by U.S. Marines and dubbed as “The Yellow Brick Road.”

“Part of it is an obstacle course and at the end of it, you have to run all the way back,” Holmes said.

Those who complete the course are awarded with a special yellow brick.

“It’s by far the best law enforcement training I have ever participated in,” Holmes said. “I look forward to utilizing the training I received.”

‰ Patrick McCreless can be reached by e-mail at patrickm@cullmantimes.com or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.

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