Sgt. Steve Rathman back from academy in Virginia
By Sarah Schulz, The Independent (Grand Island, Neb.)
Grand Island, Neb. Police Sgt. Steve Rathman is steeped in new
information on media relations, death investigation management and
contemporary issues facing law enforcement officers.
The stack of
black binders containing that information and bearing the FBI Academy
logo are sitting on a shelf in his desk, ready for other officers to
look through, he said.
Rathman returned from the Quantico, Va.,
academy on Saturday. He'd been on the East Coast since Jan. 8.
plans to send out a memo to his fellow supervisors informing them of
the classes he took in Quantico and offering the materials for them
"The training shouldn't end just because I'm back," he
Police Chief Kyle Hetrick, who is also a Quantico graduate,
approached Rathman about attending the academy back in 2000.
"This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Rathman said. "This is
my job. My career goal is to advance within the department."
Police Capt. Robert Falldorf, also a Quantico graduate, said the
training at the FBI academy is "top-notch." There are already plans
to send another Grand Island sergeant to the academy, which officers
can attend for free.
Falldorf, who is the administrative division
captain, said he can already see improvements in Rathman's
"You can tell a little bit of a difference in this
short amount of time," Falldorf said.
While at the academy,
Rathman took courses on media relations, managing death
investigations, forensic science for managers, legal issues for
command level officers, and contemporary issues in law enforcement.
He was also required to take physical training courses.
relations class was the most interesting course, he said.
an eye-opener," he said.
The class was taught by a woman who has
worked in broadcast journalism and was a public information officer
for the Minneapolis Police Department. Rathman said he learned how
the department and the media can work together, and how officers can
use media outlets to provide the community with information and help
The death investigation class reemphasized some of
the techniques that Rathman has learned during his 12 years in law
enforcement. The class was taught with managers in mind, as were all
of the classes he took while at the academy.
Rathman was named
the administration division sergeant in December. He had been a night
shift sergeant since 1998 and has been with the Police Department
since 1996. Prior to that, the Grand Island native spent four years
with the Hall County Sheriff's Department.
issues class focused on changes in the field. The class consisted of
24 Americans and an officer from Italy, all of whom ranged in age
from their 30s to their 50s. Rathman said the age differences and
various backgrounds led to many round-table discussions on changing
issues in law enforcement. The group touched on the use of
technology, training, hiring and studied suicide bombers in Israel,
The academy is open to American and international law
enforcement agents, both civilian and military, he said. There were
24 international students in Rathman's class, including people from
Spain, Australia, France, England, Estonia, Bosnia, Jamaica, Belgium,
Chile and Jordan, he said.
The wide variety of officers gave
Rathman the opportunity to exchange ideas and network with the men
and women from other agencies.
In addition to that socialization
and the classroom discussions, Rathman was required to complete seven
research papers, including one on the Irish Republican Army and a
case study of "suicide by cop." For the latter, Rathman used the
November shooting death of a Grand Island woman by police. Using
examples from the "real world" helped bring the Quantico experience
home, which will be helpful in training other officers, he said.
Other FBI Academy graduates are:
Police Chief Kyle Hetrick
Police Capt. Kerry Mehlin
Police Capt. Pete Kortum
Capt. Robert Falldorf
Police Sgt. Clyde Church
Chief Deputy Sheriff Chris Rea
Sheriff's Capt. Rodger
Sheriff's Capt. Gregg Ahlers