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Sheriff's deputy invited to attend FBI academy

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Detective Sgt. Jeff Rasche
Detective Sgt. Jeff Rasche

GREENFIELD — A local sheriff’s deputy will spend the next 10 weeks training with officers from around the world at the elite FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

Detective Capt. Jeff Rasche is one of just four Indiana law enforcement officers invited to attend this session of the academy, which hosts quarterly intensive training programs for law enforcement officers in leadership positions. He is joined by officers from the Indiana State Police, Noblesville and Indiana State University police departments.

The academy, which was founded in 1935, offers courses accredited through the University of Virginia, free of charge to attendees. Each class has about 250 officers; usually, about 10 percent of those are international students.

An invitation to the academy is considered a prestigious honor. Only 1 percent of law enforcement officers, worldwide, are asked to attend, said Special Agent Wendy Osborne, academy coordinator for the Indianapolis office of the FBI.

“The applications we receive far exceeds the number of slots that we are able to send each year,” she said.

Part of the consideration is each state must be represented by officers from departments of varying sizes, Osborne said.

Rasche submitted his application more than a decade ago. He was pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call from the FBI last spring.

“All of a sudden, I get this phone call saying, ‘Hey, let’s get your stuff together and redo your application,’” Rasche said.

Officers are charged with building their own class schedule in order to focus on areas they feel best suit their needs. The work is intense; class is held Monday to Friday with stiff attendance requirements, and officers are charged with writing essays and taking exams just as they would in any college course.

Rasche said he is looking forward to instruction that will improve his skills in two areas of his job – general detective work and internal investigations.

A case-analysis course, for example, will go over lessons learned by investigators of high-profile cases including the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and JonBenet Ramsey. A class Rasche is taking on the psychology of employees will aid him in working with colleagues who are being investigated for wrongdoing.

Sheriff Mike Shepherd knows firsthand the opportunity Rasche has received. Shepherd attended the academy in 2002 when he was serving as Fortville town marshal.

“It’s a very rare opportunity,” Shepherd said. “The classes that he takes will obviously be helpful to him in his work.”

But it’s the networking that is considered one of the academy’s most valuable assets, Osborne said.

“The cooperation is absolutely outstanding,” said Osborne, who attended the academy in 2011. “It’s an excellent networking. Because everyone knows what it took to get there.”

Because local investigations often cross state lines, Rasche said he expects making connections with other law enforcement officers will be invaluable.

“You have somebody you can reach out to, somebody you physically have met that you can trust,” he said.

Detective Sgt. Trent Smoll will oversee the department’s investigations unit in Rasche’s absence. When it comes to grooming leaders within the department, Shepherd said he hopes Rasche’s absence will also prove positive for the staff he leaves behind.

“Trent will get 10 weeks of seeing what is like to be in Jeff’s role,” he said. “I think it’s good for him, a good eye-opener, to see what his boss has to go through, deal with.”

Rasche will return from the academy in September. After he graduates, he will be invited to join the Indiana chapter of academy graduates.

“It keeps you involved,” Rasche said. “Once you’re in, you’re in. It’s not only just a 10-week event; it’s a lifetime from there on out.”

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