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Hartselle lieutenant graduates from FBI National Academy

Lt. Alan McDearmond, one of Hartselle’s officers in blue, recently returned from what he calls “the best experience of (his) life.”

The 23-year veteran of law enforcement recently graduated from the 282nd class of the FBI National Academy held this summer in Quantico, Va.

According to its website, the academy, held 2-3 times a year, is a professional course of study for U.S. and international law enforcement managers nominated by their agency heads because of demonstrated leadership qualities.

The 10-week program – which provides coursework in intelligence theory, terrorism and terrorist mindsets, management science, law, behavioral science, law enforcement communication, and forensic science – 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.

McDearmond said his time in the academy flew by. “We stayed busy the entire time we were there,” he said.

The classes count for college credit – McDearmond earned a graduate certificate through the University of Virginia – $10,000 worth of graduate education.

That’s at no cost to the city (of Hartselle.) The FBI supplies the food, training – everything,” McDearmond said.

Officer wellness is a topic that McDearmond said he enjoyed learning more about during the academy. Everything from physical, mental and financial wellness was discussed during the college-like classes.

McDearmond said he has already been able to take some of what he learned from his participation and bring it back to his department to share with others.

As a supervisor – McDearmond runs the Hartselle Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division – something he said he found the most helpful were the classes on managing change and coping with different things as they happen within the department. Those things were specifically more beneficial for me.

McDearmond added one class he learned a lot from was a class on managing a department’s image, which he said was essentially a media relations class.

It taught us ways to get our message out to the public,” he said. “You see a lot of departments throw a ‘no comment’ out there when something happens.” McDearmond said his goal for the Hartselle Police Department is to continue to be accessible to the public it serves.

McDearmond with fellow classmates from Alabama who graduated from the FBI National Academy.

During the academy, McDearmond ran a 6.1-mile run that graduates refer to as the Yellow Brick Road. The fitness challenge is a grueling run through a hilly, wooded trail built by the Marines. Along the way, the participants must climb over walls, run through creeks, jump through simulated windows, scale rock faces with ropes, crawl under barbed wire in muddy water, maneuver across a cargo net and more. When, and if, students complete this difficult test, they receive an actual yellow brick to memorialize their achievement.

McDearmond proudly displays his yellow brick on his bookcase in his office.

Overall, the lieutenant and U.S. Air Force veteran said the training taught him about his role as a supervisor and leader within the HPD.

“It brought more of servant leader out in me,” McDearmond said. “Sometimes I get lost in all of the supervisor duties – but the academy brought back to me a sense that the people I supervise are more important than anything else that I’ve got going on.”

He said the City of Hartselle as well as the department is blessed with the strong sense of community pride it maintains. He said many of his fellow graduates come from departments that do not have that.

Through the experience, McDearmond said he made invaluable connections with law enforcement officers from across the country as well as internationally.

I was in training with a guy from Alaska, a couple of guys from Hawaii, a chief at Hartford, a guy who works for D.C. police, a secret service police officer,” he said. “I made friends from everywhere so if I need something I’ve got those connections. I made some deep-seeded relationships.”

If given the opportunity to attend again, McDearmond said he would have no hesitation.

“I would be packed and gone tomorrow,” he said.