KINGSTON, R.I., July 2, 2018 — University of Rhode Island Police Maj. Michael Jagoda has a yellow brick in his office at the police station on Briar Lane.
But it’s not because he is obsessed with the Wizard of Oz or that he is hoping to begin a paving trend at URI.
He has the yellow brick, inscribed with the words “Yellow Brick Road, FBINA 272” and mounted on a wood base, because he is the only Rhode Island law enforcement officer to graduate this session from the FBI National Academy, prestigious 10-week academic, physical training, leadership and ethics program.
Jagoda was among 232 law enforcement officials worldwide selected to participate. The class, which graduated June 8, was made up of men and women from 48 states and the District of Columbia, as well members of law enforcement agencies from 25 countries, five military organizations and several federal agencies. The University of Connecticut was the only other college from New England to have an officer accepted. In total, officers from seven university police departments participated.
“Classes started every day at 7:30 a.m. and we finished at 4:45 p.m.,” the major said. “For the first five weeks, I spent my weekends writing papers.” And they weren’t easy classes. “Because I have a master’s degree, several of my six courses at UVA had to be graduate level,” Jagoda said.
Among the topics were: executive leadership in contemporary law enforcement, which addressed topics like diversity and protests, legal Issues in law enforcement, counterterrorism, critical incident leadership and fitness in law enforcement, which covered physical and mental health and had a strong reflection component.
Jagoda said the experience has made him a better police officer and leader.
“There is a higher calling for those involved in this work and a commitment to be a better public servant,” Jagoda said. “You can’t just rest on your laurels. This experience reminded me and many others why we chose law enforcement as our careers. This really rejuvenated me.”
Jagoda and his classmates were required to blog about their classes and experience each night, and they had to prepare for frequent discussions. They evaluated after-action reports on mass shootings to learn what was done correctly and what went wrong.
FBI Director Christopher Wray also spoke to the class, calling attention to its immense responsibility and the values law enforcement should seek to uphold.
Although crime is at an all-time low, police training and education more advanced than ever and use of technology and advanced leadership training are key components of law enforcement, public trust in the police is lower than it was 15 years ago, the major said.
“So we learned about how to build trust, and we were given a new way to think about how we interact with people, “Don’t just listen to respond. Listen to understand.”
Jagoda said the life expectancy of a police officer is about 10 years shorter than the average population, and so much of the program focused on getting proper sleep, exercising and eating the right foods.
“I really bought in to all of this. Even before the academy, I was getting to the Mackal Field House on campus every day at 6:30 to work out. I trained three months prior to the academy, but I wasn’t as conditioned as I thought.”
Each Wednesday the class completed a fitness challenge, one of which required the candidates to run a mile in under 10 minutes, which Jagoda did, finishing with a time under 7 minutes.
“They tested us on flexibility, our reach, strength, speed and endurance,” Jagoda said.
He said one of the major benefits of the academy is the network it creates among current and past participants.
“I have a roster of all of the participants in this year’s class, and if we have an incident at URI for which I might need some guidance, I can call any one of them for help. I can even call those who participated in past academies, including those from other countries.”