Sheriff talks about training at FBI academy

Curry County Sheriff Roger Hatcher attended the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., for 10 weeks. Now back at his desk, Hatcher talks about what he learned and how it may affect his office.

Q. What classes did you take?

A. I took six classes: Physical training, public speaking, effective writing, educational leadership, ethics and law.

Q. What was your favorite class?

A. Law class, simply because it dealt with all I deal with (as sheriff). Employment law, civil law and tort claims issues were covered. There’s protection in the law for the public against civil rights violations and for law enforcement entities against frivolous torts claims.

Q. What was an advantage of attending the academy?

A. Networking. The sheriff’s office contacts other departments in other states when we do extraditions. I met 246 people (employed in law enforcement and criminal justice) from 49 states and 25 foreign countries. We did sit-ups, push-ups, went to class and ate together. That’s an intent of the academy, to spend 10 weeks getting to know each other.

Q. How was your FBI training funded and how were you chosen to attend?

A. This was funded by the federal government. It began in 1935 and this was the 223rd session. It had been 14 years since anyone in our office had been able to attend. I inquired into the program and Curry County Commissioner Ed Perales nominated me. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I will definitely remember it the rest of my life.

Q. How many Clovis law enforcement officers have gone through the FBI program you attended?

A. In the last 25 years, approximately nine, probably more.

Q. Talk about speakers you heard and places you visited during your time in Quantico.

A. A pilot from Black Hawk Down spoke to us about being shot down and being a prisoner for a few days. A California trooper who was shot and blinded and now works with cops and families with stress disorders talked with us. And three of my classes required I go to the Holocaust Museum. I never understood why America was the world’s police force until I went to the museum. We learned why we should get involved; it gave me a better appreciation of the leadership of our country. I don’t always agree but I understand.

Q. What’s a change you will make in your office after attending the academy?

A. I called Undersheriff Doug Bowman from the academy and told him no more public ride alongs with deputies until I get back. An issue brought up in my law class was how ride alongs could violate Fourth Amendment rights. We learned about a case where a law enforcement agency allowed media along during the execution of a search warrant. The media were allowed into the home and the agency was sued because the media had no right to be there; the Supreme Court said individual Fourth Amendment rights were violated. We’ll still do ride alongs, but the person won’t be allowed out of the vehicle. It’s simple things like that — had I not gone to that class it might have been too late.

— Compiled by CNJ staff writer Andy Jackson