Over the years, Hollywood has glamorized the work and lifestyle of Federal agents and other law enforcement agents.
These movies portray these individuals as near-superheroes as they solve enigmatic mysteries, complex crimes, and even cases that delve into the paranormal.
Of course, a lot of these portrayals are somewhat exaggerated. However, there are some aspects of law enforcement that do take a near-superhero strength, speed, stamina, and smarts.
There is no better example of this than the FBI National Academy’s Yellow Brick Road; a 6.1-mile obstacle course that is part of a 10-week training course.
According to the FBI, the FBI Academy, which has been around since the mid-1930s, is an invitation-only “course of study for U.S. and international law enforcement leaders that 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.” (1)
Law enforcement officials outside of the FBI must be nominated by someone in a supervisory position such as a commissioner, superintendent, chief of police, county sheriff or etc. The nominee must also fulfill a series of personal and professional requirements.
For example, the nominee must be in peak physical condition, have a proven record of integrity, and “exhibit an interest in law enforcement as a public service, a seriousness of purpose, qualities of leadership and enjoy the confidence and respect of fellow officers.” (2)
What to Expect at the FBI Academy
Once accepted by the FBI Academy, students participate in a number of academic courses such as law, behavioral science, and forensic science; among others.
Many of the courses also focus on leadership and decision-making, which allows students to develop professionally in those areas.
It is during these courses that students, who all possess diverse backgrounds and experiences, are urged to share their experiences. This creates a valuable networking experience for the more than 250 students that participate in the 10-week course.
However, the FBI Academy does not only focus on academics and professional development. A large part of the session focuses on physical fitness.
Traversing the Yellow Brick Road
The FBI Academy also provides a series of physical fitness courses that is comprised of classroom instruction coupled with physical training in a gym/track and field setting.
E.J. O’Malley, a health and fitness instructor at the FBI Academy, described the fitness instruction as “tell, show do.” (4)
Fitness instructors counsel each student individually to create a personal program and a set of attainable goals. This is important to instructors because their goal is to be able to give the students, many of which are in their 40s and 50s, the skills to continue their fitness regimen when they return home.
However, before returning home, students have an opportunity to put everything they have learned to the test on the famed Yellow Brick Road.
The Yellow Brick Road is a 6.1-mile obstacle course where each mile is marked with yellow brick mile markers.
As leisurely as this may sound, the Yellow Brick Road is actually an arduous Marine-built run that requires students to:
“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.” (1)
Even though the course is optional, the attendees are expected to run the course and receive their yellow brick for completion. It is an achievement that not every student earns. However, those who do earn it, see their yellow brick as a major accomplishment; not just professionally, but also personally.
The entire session is designed to push attendees professionally, academically, and physically. Most attendees of the FBI Academy who have completed the course feel that they are better law enforcement agents because of it. If given the chance, could you survive the Yellow Brick Road?
References & Image Credits:
(1) FBI: National Academy
(2) FBI: National Academy Nominations
(3) FBI: National Academy Statistics
(4) Federal News Radio
(6) Whidbey News-Times
(7) University of Richmond
(8) Georgia Wildlife