By Chris Bavender
Westfield Police Dept. Lt. Eric Grimes graduated March 17 from the FBI National Academy 281st Session. Participation is by invitation only through a highly competitive nomination process. Grimes was nominated by WPD Chief Joel Rush through the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office.
“Recommendation to attend the National Academy requires the nominee to be physically fit and have excellent character and integrity,” Grimes said. “Additionally, you must have established a commitment to public service, demonstrate the qualities of leadership and must have the confidence and respect of fellow officers.”
The 10-week program provides participants coursework in intelligence theory, terrorism and terrorist mindsets, management science, law, behavioral science, law enforcement communication and forensic science. The goal is 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.
Prior to leaving for the academy, Grimes, who has been with the WPD since 2009, spoke with co-workers who had also attended the academy about what life might be like at the academy, things to explore and the relationships that were formed.
“It was overwhelming at first, almost like your freshman move-in year at college,” Grimes said. “After completing the course and now having time to reflect on my own experience, I can honestly say that the NA challenged me academically, mentally and physically in ways that I haven’t been challenged in law enforcement, or in life, before.”
Besides extensive work in the classroom, participants went on professional development trips to New York and visited the New York Police Dept. Headquarters, One World Trade Center, the 9/11 Museum and the twin waterfall reflecting pools. They also visited Washington, D.C., where they spent time at the White House, U.S. Capitol, U.S. Supreme Court and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
“Not only did I learn so much in the classroom, but I learned a vast amount of information from my peers. Many, many officers were executive command staff at large agencies and having the ability to talk with them about a variety of topics was invaluable,” Grimes said. “To that, knowing I have a nationwide, and worldwide, NA group of professional law enforcement officers that I can reach out to for assistance of any kind, is something unique.”
The only bittersweet part of attending NA was leaving is wife, Carolyn, and son Rowan.
“I can honestly say the day before I left, I was with my family and I started to have buyer’s remorse as I looked at my luggage by the door knowing I would be gone for almost three months away from them,” Grimes said. “It was difficult being gone, but my wife is a strong woman and overcame more of a challenge here at home than what I went through, having to care for our 1 1/2-year old son, while also being pregnant, and running her own business full time. But we had a good support system of friends and family already in place and everyone helped out in a variety of ways.”
Class 281 was comprised of 233 police officers from across the U.S., and an additional 34 officers from around the globe, including Germany, Iraq, Pakistan, Japan, S. Korea, Austria, Brazil, Thailand and Ukraine. Less than 1 percent of law enforcement officers in the U.S. are selected to attend the prestigious professional development course.