For the past 10 weeks, Dale Sigler has had the chance to learn from some of the top law enforcement officials from around the globe. Sigler was one of 250 individuals invited to study as members of the National Class No. 275 at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
The academy is a professional study course for both U.S. and international law enforcement managers, with the course work covering a variety of subjects, including intelligence theory, management science, law, behavioral science, law enforcement communications, forensic science and terrorism, and terrorist mindsets.
“Attending was a huge honor,” Sigler told the Sun. “I am humbled to get to work for Chief (Wade) Goolsby and City Manager Michael Scott. They afforded me the opportunity to get to go.
“For 10 weeks, you are away from your duties,” he said. “I am fortunate that we work for leaders that recognize the importance of professional development to ensure that we do and can serve the public the best way that we can and the way they deserve to be served.”
Attending the academy is by invitation only, with Sigler nominated by retired Highland Park Police Chief Darrell Fant. Sigler received word about six months ago that he was selected to attend, contingent on passing an interview with an FBI field agent, physical fitness assessment and a background check. Approval had to be given by both the city manager and police chief – and Sigler also had to commit to work three more years as a law enforcement officer.
“There are only 250 people for each class that go to it from throughout the entire world,” he said. “Ten percent of the spots are reserved for international students. It is a very competitive process to get selected for it.”
Sigler was one of only six officers from the DFW Metroplex selected for Class 275; there are about 20,000 police officers serving across the state of Texas.
The national academy comprises three areas: academics, networking with fellow classmates and physical fitness.
“The FBI National Academy is accredited through the University of Virginia,” Sigler said. “While students are there, you have an opportunity to earn up to 18 hours of undergraduate or graduate credits. I took all graduate-level courses through the university that I can either finish up there or transfer somewhere else.
“We had to write papers and give presentations on topics that are relevant to modern day law enforcement,” he said. “Everything that we did was relevant to what we are doing today.”
One of the most valuable parts of the academy was the chance to meet with fellow law enforcement officers and learn from them, he said, noting there were students and instructors from 47 states and 26 countries, including the United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Australia, Iceland, Iraq and Austria.
“Truly one of the most interesting parts of this was getting to talk to these individuals that were in the class, hear about the different policing methods and the different philosophies of how they police their societies. So that is interesting to hear that, especially international partners,” Sigler said. “Criminals don’t know any boundaries so it’s good to have these resources across the state lines, across the country and internationally. When you have a problem, you have a point of contact.”
Sigler noted that a lot of countries, such as the United Kingdom, have a national police force directing law enforcement activity – but that type of system has both positive and negative points.
“What is unique about it, from my perspective, is that here in Waxahachie we get to police the community the way Waxahachie citizens want to be policed,” Sigler said. “It is not always a good thing when you have a single police agency policing every single community the same way, because not every single community is the same.”
Physical fitness was a part of the curriculum during the 10-week academy and incorporated into the day’s activities at least four days of the week. Near the completion of the academy, students had the chance to take part in the physical challenge known as the Yellow Brick Road.
According to the National Academy’s website, the Yellow Brick Road is the final test of the fitness challenge. It is made up of a 6.1 mile run through a hilly, wooded trail built by the U.S. Marine Corps. Along the way, participants must climb over walls, run through creeks, jump through simulated windows, scale rock faces with ropes, crawl under barbed wire in muddy water and maneuver across a cargo net.
Part of the course is used to train candidates attending the Marine Officer School. If successfully completed, students receive an actual yellow brick to honor their achievement. The yellow bricks are like the ones the Marines use as markers on the course.
Sigler, who received a brick for successfully completing the physical test, said it represents an extraordinary moment because it’s a “token of your accomplishment” and “even though it is a brick, it means much more.”
The academy participants also had the chance to visit the historical sites around Washington, D.C., including the National Holocaust Museum; the Marine Corps Museum near Quantico; and the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City, among others.
“We visited New York and stayed there for the weekend and visited ground zero and the museum,” Sigler said. “That was very sobering. The memorial is beautiful itself (but) the names engraved all the way around it sets you back a little bit. The museum is something that everyone needs to see in their lifetime.”
Sigler said he was honored to represent Waxahachie at the prestigious academy and looks forward to sharing the knowledge he gained with his fellow officers. He notes that this trip would not have been possible without the support from his family.
“I owe a lot of gratitude to my wife who was here for 10 weeks with my two kids and keeping the home front going,” he said. “A lot of things had to line up for me to go to this thing. She knew that this was important, not only for my professional development but to serve the community as a whole better. She is a true trooper and an amazing wife and woman.”