OAKLAND — Police Chief Mike Tracy graduated Friday from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy in Quantico, Va.

In his Fairfield Street office Monday, Tracy had a diploma and a yellow brick to show for his efforts.

The diploma signifies that Tracy completed 10 weeks of college-level courses in forensics, interrogation strategies through statement analysis, leadership, stress management and labor law, as well as fitness training.

The brick is proof that Tracy, 53, mastered the Yellow Brick Road, a rigorous 6.4-mile wooded course complete with walls to climb over, streams to cross, windows to climb through and rocks to scale.

“I think I’m in the best shape of my life,” Tracy said.

Tracy, chief of the Oakland Police Department since 2002, was one of 264 men and women from 48 states, the District of Columbia and 24 other countries to graduate from the 249th session of academy.

Tracy raved about the academy, which seeks to improve law enforcement techniques and knowledge and the cooperation of police departments worldwide.

He said the education was invaluable and that he made a number of friends and connections at law enforcement agencies across the country.

Tracy said he’s eager to put to use what he learned and share his knowledge with members of the Oakland department.

Much has changed in the law enforcement profession since he joined the department as a part-time officer, he said.

Tracy recalled walking into the Oakland station in 1981 and asking if he could job-shadow patrol officers.

“I rode along for a month and then was sworn in and handed a gun,” he said.

Tracy later graduated from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

Police officers now routinely undergo an 18-week basic law enforcement course at the academy in Vassalboro.

Tracy said the National Academy, on a 547-acre Marine Corps base just south of Washington, D.C., included lectures, field trips, research and writing papers.

“They prepare you to be a better leader and administrator,” he said. “The FBI instructors were top-notch.”

In one project, Tracy said, he and classmates evaluated the New Orleans Police Department’s response after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Guest speakers were also inspiring and informative, Tracy said.

Mike Durant, an Army pilot held captive in 1993 by warlords after his helicopter was shot down during the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia, was one.

Warlords released Durant, a member of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, after 11 days.

The incident has been detailed in a book and movie, both titled “Black Hawk Down.”

Tracy said the most difficult part of the 10-week commitment was being away from home.

Having access to Skype, email and a cellphone eased the separation from his wife, Laura, and adult children Sarah and Scott, he said.

Beth Staples — 861-9252

[email protected]


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