University of South Carolina

USCPD takes on FBI Academy

By Liz McCarthy,, 803-777-2848

When Maj. T.J. Geary first arrived in Quantico, Va., he was looking for a challenge. The USC operations bureau commander wanted to conquer the famed FBI National Academy obstacle course and learn as much as he could in his time away from campus.

For 11 weeks last fall, Geary did just that. He immersed himself in criminal procedure along with some 250 law enforcement officers from all 50 states and multiple countries.

“It’s basically eat, sleep, work out and study,” Geary said. “I really came to push myself. I shied away from the less challenging courses and tried to go beyond what was mandatory.”

Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover founded the FBI National Academy as a way to standardize law enforcement procedures and raise professionalism across the country. Four times a year officers spend 10 weeks taking undergraduate and graduate level classes and preparing for the ultimate physical test – a 6.1-mile obstacle course run through a hilly, wooded trail built by the Marines.

(Runners who complete the course, known as the "yellow brick road," recieve an actual yellow brick. Geary said the course was the most difficult physical challenge he faced and will proudly display his yellow brick.)  

Geary, who recently assumed command of the Division of Law Enforcement and Safety’s Investigations Unit as part of his area of responsibility, found his courses in labor law and constitutional law to be the most beneficial.

He can also pick up on linguistic and non-verbal cues to tell whether someone is lying, skills he learned in his classes on detecting deception -- or, as Geary called it, “my Jedi classes.”

Although there are other police executive schools (and USC does send officers to these), the FBI National Academy is probably the most prestigious and offers the best-rounded curriculum. It is the only one that combines a physical component with the traditional academic and leadership aspects.  One of the key benefits is the fraternal bond of its graduates, Geary said.

“The contacts that I made will be very beneficial,” he said. “I now know somebody in a higher-level position from every state in the country and from 29 foreign countries. It’s a very strong and broad network of resources.”

USC has sent several officers to the training sessions through the years including Chris Wuchenich, associate vice president and director of Law Enforcement and Safety, and Scott Prill, the associate director.

"T.J and consequently the division benefits most notably in the development of skills and perspectives in several areas related to our operations and service to our community ranging from organizational communication and leadership skills to forensic and legal issues," Wuchenich said.  "There is also on-going professional development that comes from being engaged and active with a prestigious national association and its frequent in-service meetings and training programs."

Geary said he will use much of the material he brought back from Virginia to teach his officers as well.  

“It’s a good opportunity for us to get our name out there,” Geary said. “I tried to represent the department as best I could. The things that I brought back will definitely help me do my job better and help my guys do their jobs better.” 

To read more about Geary's experience at the FBI National Academy, follow his blog

News and Internal Communications

Posted: 01/07/13 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 01/07/13 @ 4:37 PM | Permalink