Officer is fourth from U to train with FBI

Elizabeth Cook

Lt. Troy Buhta graduated Sept. 16 as part of the 222nd FBI National Academy class.

During his 10-week stay on the Quantico, Va., FBI campus, the University Police Department member enjoyed meeting people from all over the world and seeing that everyone is dealing with the same types of problems, he said.

Buhta took classes in management, media, labor law, behavioral science and physical training.

During his training, he went beyond the physical requirements.

When many officers ran 6.3 miles, he ran nine.

When other officers chose not to swim, Buhta racked up 34 miles in the water, he said.

Aside from the physical demands, Buhta said, the coursework was challenging.

“You’re getting graded,” he said. “If you don’t pass, you fail the class.”

He said his least favorite part of the experience was the food.

Four members of the University Police Department have participated in the FBI National Academy.

Four times a year, 250 officers from around the world take graduate or undergraduate classes that count for college credit.

The program is invitation-only.

Then, through a nomination process, a law enforcement leader is picked to attend.

“It’s quite an honor to be selected,” said special agent Paul McCabe, spokesman for the Minneapolis division of the FBI.

Since 1935, there have been more than 38,000 graduates, 2,800 from other countries, McCabe said.

Attendees are taught about issues such as drug trafficking and human trafficking, McCabe said.

“The curriculum changes as the crime problems change,” McCabe said.

The fact that there have been four officers from the University police chosen to attend the FBI National Academy reflects the quality of the department, McCabe said.

All University police officials who attended the academy said meeting law enforcement leaders from across the globe was the most valuable experience they had.

Lt. Charles Miner graduated in 2004 in the 218th class.

Miner realized, by meeting leaders from all over the world, there are commonalities between departments, but there are also differences.

“(It) assured me we have our act together in the upper Midwest,” he said.

Miner took classes in media relations, contemporary issues in law enforcement, labor issues for police executives, crime scene investigations, community policing and physical training.

“It’s like taking a semester at college,” Miner said.

It was tough being away from his family, but Miner was able to cope because he had access to telephones and computers, he said.

“Technology really helps,” Miner said.

When Deputy Police Chief Steve Johnson graduated in 1997 in the 191st class, he also felt that being able to interact with people from all over the world really made the experience worthwhile, he said.

“(I met) people I still talk to, and we have friendships,” he said.

Johnson took classes in evidentiary photography, mass media and the police, constitutional law, leadership and ethics, stress management and law enforcement, physical fitness, and a fitness specialist class.

Johnson spoke about some of the activities he participated in, which include taking aerial photos and taking photos in the dark with special cameras.

Greg Hestness, University police chief, also went through the program, graduating in 1993 in the 174th class.

Hestness took classes in media policy, management, legal issues and physical training. He said his media class was the most useful.

Aside from networking with other officers, Hestness said, the classes helped him work on his master’s thesis.

While Hestness worked toward his degree, he missed his family.

“It’s a long time to be away from your family,” Hestness said.

Even though Hestness recognizes there are similar programs for law enforcement officers to participate in, he said the FBI National Academy has a big advantage.

“The very nice thing is there’s no charge,” he said.