Edgartown Police Department’s Lt. Christopher Dolby graduated from the FBI National Academy (FBINA) Friday, becoming one of over 52,000 alumni to graduate from the prestigious program.
Dolby graduated from the 276th session of the FBINA, which dates back to 1935. He completed the 10-week course in Quantico, Va., alongside 256 men and women from around the country, along with 35 international countries.
The course covers advanced communication, leadership, and fitness training. On average, these officers have 21 years of law enforcement experience, and usually return to their agencies to serve in executive-level positions.
Dolby has been part of the Edgartown Police Department for 29 years. He started his career as a traffic officer, and worked his way up to lieutenant in 2015. He called the training the best in the U.S., and important for him to complete.
“You’ve got to push yourselves, and you’ve got to get the best training out there,” Dolby said. “To make yourself better and your department better, and serve your community better.”
It took Dolby five years to be accepted into the prestigious program. The process begins with a nomination from the applicant’s agency chief. Former Edgartown Police Chief Antone “Tony” Bettencourt filled out the paperwork for Dolby back in 2014.
Dolby is the first Island officer to finish the training since Tisbury Police Officer Justin Welch did so in 1974. Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee, who joined the department last year, completed the training when he was with the Plymouth Police Department.
“It doesn’t change just because we’re on an Island. We’re held to the same standards that everyone in the U.S. is,” Dolby said. “We can’t live in a vacuum here. We have to get out and take advantage of these opportunities.”
The academy is broken into three aspects: academic, physical, and networking.
The course is linked with the University of Virginia, and offers graduate and undergraduate courses. Some of the classes Dolby took were leadership, media, behavioral sciences, and violent crime investigations.
“We did a lot of case studies of the most recent active-shooter situations, which makes you think, and you learn from the mistakes of others — what we should be doing, and really all the best practices in policing to date,” he said.
Students also train their bodies by completing weekly physical challenges with the goal of finishing a 6.1-mile obstacle course called “the Yellow Brick Road.” The course runs through hilly, wooded areas built by Marines. It includes running through creeks, climbing over walls, scaling rockfaces by rope, crawling under barbed wire in muddy water, and other tasks.
The final aspect involves networking with other law enforcement officers and learning about the different communities they serve. He now has contacts with an assistant chief in Oakland, Calif., an administrator commander of the Brazilian State Police, and others from varied backgrounds.
“We live in a community where we’re really lucky to live here, and we don’t see a lot of things crime-wise here, but we have to be ready to deal with those things,” he said.
Dolby said if members of the police department don’t continue to train and learn, things can become stagnant. He made a point to thank his family, who supported him throughout the 10-week academy and his entire career, as he continues to improve himself.
“The overall goal is to get better,” he said. “I hope that this becomes a common training.”