GREENFIELD — The Greenfield Police Department celebrating the graduation of its first officer to pass through the elite FBI National Academy.
Lt. Matt Holland, an 18-year veteran of the Greenfield Police Department, recently returned to Hancock County after participating in the 10-week training program coordinated by the nation’s top investigators in Quantico, Virginia.
The FBI National Academy was founded in 1935 as a training school for police officers across the globe. Today, the program offers education courses accredited through the University of Virginia that are free of charge to attendees in the hope of raising law enforcement standards worldwide, according to the FBI’s website.
Each class has about 200 officers; 10 percent of whom are usually international students. Holland, a New Palestine resident, was among the some 220 officers who recently graduated with the academy’s 265th class.
Holland currently oversees the first shift of Greenfield Police Department patrol officers who take the city’s streets each morning. He has served on the county’s SWAT team and the local honor guard. He previously worked as one of the department’s narcotics detectives.
The classes he completed while attending the academy included coursework in intelligence theory, management, behavioral science and forensics; but Holland said he found the lesson addressing drug enforcement tactics the most interesting and applicable for Greenfield, particularly in the midst of heroin abuse problems gripping the region.
Fewer than a dozen officers in Hancock County have been chosen to attend the national academy. Most recently, Hancock County Sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Rasche attended the academy in 2014; and Sheriff Mike Shepherd attended the academy in 2002 while serving as the chief of the Fortville Police Department.
Holland is the first Greenfield officer to ever attend, department leaders said.
The academy is widely considered the highest level of law enforcement training and is open only to those who achieved at least the rank of lieutenant, Holland said. Since being appointed to that rank in early 2015, Holland said he has been interested in having a chance to continue his education with the training institution.
Having the opportunity to attend the FBI National Academy is a great honor, Greenfield Lt. Randy Ratliff said. Participants are accepted into the program by invitation only and fewer than 1 percent of law enforcement officers worldwide attend the FBI National Academy, officials said.
The knowledge and skills officers return from the academy with are advantageous to the department as a whole, Ratliff said. Additionally, the networking attendees are able to do with their fellow officers from across the county can open the door to area resources, he said.
As he settles back into a normal patrol schedule, Holland said he hopes to pass along tips and tools he picked up from the academy to his fellow officers in the coming weeks. He also plans to join the national FBI National Academy Associates Inc., a network of 16,000 law enforcement leaders that hosts periodic refresher courses for academy graduates.