Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sgt. Lengel graduates from FBI Academy

By Will Bublitz

Sgt. Russell Lengel of the Limon Police Department has returned to work after graduating last month from the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy in Quantico, Va.

Lengel attended the FBI National Academy from July 15 through September 21. The 10-week course is specially designed for law enforcement officers to further enhance their knowledge in advanced investigative and management skills.

“The NA (National Academy) provides advanced training for law enforcement officers worldwide,” Lengel said. “Going through its training was a great experience. It absolutely improved me as a law enforcement officer.”

Four of these 10-week “Sessions” for law enforcement officers are held annually at FBI National Academy. Lengel was a member of its 250th Session that began with 272 officers from 49 states, the District of Columbia, 24 foreign countries, three military organizations and four federal civilian organizations.

“There was an incredible mix of officers there from all over,” Lengel said. “We stayed in dormitories and one of my suite-mates was a police officer from Greece and my roommate was with the New York Police Department. I thought that was pretty funny because here I was from the five-member Limon Police Department, which was the smallest department there, and I was rooming with an officer from the largest police department in the country.”
Lengel and the other law enforcement officers received their classes in the same facilities where regular  FBI candidates receive their training.  
“There were new FBI agent candidates and FBI analysts going through training there,” he said. “It was like a bustling college campus.”
All of Lengel’s instructors were FBI special agents.

“They taught us classes in advanced investigation techniques, leadership, personnel management, business law and communication,” Lengel said. “Their instruction included training in statement analysis, firearm and arson investigations, and how to investigate officer-involved shootings. It was incredible training.”

All of the training was geared to help officers with “real world” police situations. In one of them, Lengel and his students were taken to an training site where the FBI has a mock-up of an average city street. The students were armed with 9mm pistols with blank ammunition and told to meet with an informant on the street. As part of the scenario, a drive-by shooting was then staged with the students expected to react to the situation.

“It was so real and the whole thing was videotaped so we would be able to see what we did poorly and what we did well,” Lengel said. “It was a great learning experience.”

As part of their arson and firearms training, Lengel and his classmates took a field trip to the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Laboratory in Maryland. They also learned how the ATF lab reconstructs burned buildings and then sets them on fire to determine whether the cause was accidental or arson. In addition, they observed ballistics testing with bullets being shot into blocks of gelatin at the FBI Laboratory.

Along with all of the National Academy’s classroom instruction, field trips and scenario training, Lengel and his classmates were required to participate in regular physical fitness training. One of its main features was a eight-part series of “Challenge Runs” beginning with a 1.8-mile race.

“The FBI looks at it this way: ‘We started this NA session together and we are going to finish the NA together,’” Lengel said. “So that was their reasoning for doing these challenge runs together. Each section has an FBI agent from the field as their counselor/leader who ran right alongside of us, and several of instructors were running with us, as well.”

The Challenge Runs eventually ended during the last week of the National Academy course with the “Yellow Brick Road,” a 6.1-mile run-and-obstacle event that is infamous among all FBI trainees. During that run, they have to jump over a variety of obstacles, climb ladders, scale up and down rock walls, and negotiate trails through wooded and rocky terrain.

“I’m very proud of completing the Yellow Brick Road,” Lengel said. “When I got back to the FBI Academy after that run, I was totally spent.”

In addition to its regular training, the FBI National Academy also offered an Enrichment Program that included a series of lectures. Lengel heard presentations by General Hugh Sheldon, the retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as Michael Durant, an U.S. Army helicopter pilot who was shot down in Somalia and held as a prisoner of war.

On the weekends, the FBI National Academy organized tours to nearby Washington D.C., as well as to the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg. Lengel went on those trips, as well as one to New York City that was organized by the New York Police Department. While in New York City, he visited Times Square, Wall Street, the World Trade Center site and took a boat tour of the New York harbor where he saw the Statute of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bay Bridge.

While all the training, trips and lectures were excellent, Lengel said another great feature of the FBI National Academy was that it offered its students the opportunity to “network” with other officers attending the course.

“Networking is one of the best things about it,” he said. “At night after I’d gotten my homework done, I   talked with the other officers. It was amazing to me that some of the same kinds of issues that we have to deal with in Limon have to be dealt with by officers working in big cities.”
Through this networking, Lengel made several friendships with officers from across the nation.
“Since I’ve gotten back, I’ve already gotten 21 e-mails, text messages and phone calls from my NA classmates,” he said. “It’s amazing the friendships that developed while we were there.”
Lengel was among the 262 graduates of the course. He achieved straight A’s for his academic performance.

Graduation ceremonies were held September 21.  FBI Associate Deputy Director Kevin L. Perkins was the keynote speaker. Limon Police Chief Lynn Yowell and his wife Lisa and Lengel’s wife Corinne and daughter Madison attended the ceremony.

Now back at his job with the Limon Police Department, Lengel said his 10 weeks of training with the FBI has furthered his professional development as a police officer.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said. “The FBI National Academy was the most unbelievably good training that a police officer could get anywhere and given by some of the best instructors in their respective fields.”

Lengel has been a law enforcement officer for almost three decades. He earned an Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice Administration from Pikes Peak Community College in 1984, and was Police Officer Standards and Training (POST)-certified at the Colorado Law Enforcement Training Academy in Golden in 1985.

“I’ve been a police officer for 28 years,” Lengel said. “I started as a jail deputy with the Lincoln County Sheriff. I then went to work for the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office as a patrol deputy, an investigator and finally as its chief investigator. I then joined the Limon Police Department 20 years ago this month in October 1992. After Lynn Yowell became Police Chief, I was promoted to Sergeant on May 15, 1998.”

Lengel is married to Corinne Lengel who is the Lincoln County Clerk and Recorder. They have two daughters, 21-year-old Hilary, a student at the University of Nebraska – Kearney, and 16-year-old Madison, a Limon High School sophomore.

“My attending the National Academy could never have happened without the support of my family,

Police Chief Lynn Yowell and every employee of the Limon Police Department, as well as the support of the Limon Town Board and Administration,” he said. “I knew everyone supported me in taking this training. It was wonderful.”

1 comment:

  1. They also undergo several fire training sessions prior to their start of the firearms training.