Rick Collins will not be the only one benefitting from an upcoming career-strengthening training at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. The wealth of information he'll receive during the 10-week experience on the East Coast will benefit the Ceres Police Department and residents it serves.
Captain Collins leaves for the Federal Bureau of Investigation's training program on Sunday, April 2, the first Ceres Police Department participant since the late Police Commander John Chapman attended in the early 1990s.
Getting into the academy is difficult since there is only room for about 250 and applications pour in from around the world. The process starts by being nominated by a high-ranking police official and, in Collins' case, began with a nomination by Ceres Police Chief Brent Smith.
"It benefits us because he's going to learn a lot about how other communities do law enforcement, ideas about how other people do it and I think he could bring a lot of that back to this department," said Chief Smith.
Attendees come from all over the country and world, said Smith, giving some an opportunity to meet other law enforcement executives.
Although Collins has already earned his master's degree, the academy offers master's level courses in areas that include behavioral science, forensic science, terrorism, leadership development, communications, and health and fitness. Officers participate in a wide range of leadership and specialized training, where they share ideas, techniques, and experiences with each other, creating lifelong partnerships that transcend state and national borders.
"It is definitely a resume builder," said Chief Smith. "Some sort of school like that is usually required for the next position, which would be police chief for him."
"It's definitely good for the resume, no doubt about it," noted Lt. Chris Perry. "They learn a lot about police management in general along with leadership abroad, not just here but trends in other parts of the country and other parts of the world. A big portion of what they do has to do with networking."
"Whatever he's going to learn over there he can certainly put to use here in Ceres or any other place he decides to venture out, if he ever does," said Perry.
The program is only for those who have attained the rank of a police lieutenant or higher. Located about 36 miles outside Washington, D.C., the Academy is a full-service national training facility-with conference rooms and classrooms, dorms, firing ranges, a gym and pool, a library, a dining hall, and even a mock town.
Participants must undergo the "Yellow Brick Road" fitness challenge. Collins and others will be placed on a grueling 6.1-mile run through a hilly, wooded trail built by the Marines. Along the way, participants must climb over walls, run through creeks, jump through simulated windows, scale rock faces with ropes, crawl under barbed wire in muddy water, and maneuver across a cargo net. When and if students complete this difficult test, they receive an actual yellow brick to memorialize their achievement. The course came to be known as the "Yellow Brick Road" after the Marines placed yellow bricks at various spots to show runners the way through the wooded trail.
While back at the Academy, Captain Collins will be staying in barracks on the campus while his wife Heidi and son remain in Ceres.
In Collins' absence, lieutenants Perry, Patrick Crane and James Yandell will fill in his duties.
Others in the county who have attended include Turlock Police Chief Nino Amirfar, Modesto Police Captain Craig Gundlach and Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll.