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July 15, 2019

CONTRIBUTED PHOTOgraph

Vilas County Sheriff Joe Fath, left, shakes hands with his undersheriff, Pat Schmidt, following Schmidtís graduation from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., June 7.
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOgraph

Vilas County Sheriff Joe Fath, left, shakes hands with his undersheriff, Pat Schmidt, following Schmidtís graduation from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., June 7.
6/25/2019 7:30:00 AM
Vilas County undersheriff completes FBI academy
Pat Schmidt is the county's sixth graduate

Brian Jopek
Lakeland Times Reporter


He's been with the Vilas County Sheriff's Office nearly 20 years and on June 7, the department's undersheriff, Pat Schmidt, reached another career milestone.

That's the day he and 255 other law enforcement officers graduated from the 276th session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.

With the completion of that session, a little more than 52,000 graduates have completed the FBI National Academy since it began in 1935.

The 10-week course was conducted at the FBI Training Academy, where the agency trains its new special agents and intelligence analysts.

Schmidt is the sixth member of the Vilas County Sheriff's Office to attend the academy since Gerald Bettin in 1972. Over the years, Oneida County law enforcement officers have also completed the academy course.

"Patrick is an exceptional leader and typifies the sheriff's office values of honor, loyalty, compassion and integrity," sheriff Joe Fath said in a press release.

Fath was the last person from the sheriff's office to attend the FBI National Academy, graduating in 2005.

The class Schmidt was a member of consisted of men and women from 49 states and the District of Columbia and also included members of law enforcement agencies from 35 countries, five military organizations and seven federal civilian organizations.

FBI Academy instructors, special agents and other staff with advanced degrees provided the training, many of them recognized internationally in their field.

Attorney General William Barr and FBI director Christopher Wray delivered remarks during the graduation ceremony.



'Mind stuff'

Schmidt told The Lakeland Times there was no tactical training during the academy, but there were five courses to choose from.

"It's all mind stuff, just thinking," he said. "One of the courses has to be some sort of leadership program," he said. "It's interacting and working with people that you supervise, people you manage, your peers ... stuff like that. What the best practices are now not only in the nation, but all over the world. Kind of where people are at and how things have changed."

Since 1972, National Academy students have been able to earn undergraduate and graduate credits from the University of Virginia, which accredits many of the courses offered.

Schmidt said the courses he took were graduate level.

"When you're picking your courses, you have to decide what you're going to take and anyone who doesn't have their bachelor's degree has to take undergraduate level courses," he said. "If you have a bachelor's degree, you have to take graduate level courses. There's a lot of work with that. A lot of papers you've got to write. A lot of research all based on whatever courses you took."

The two major courses Schmidt took were violent crimes and managing a critical incident.

"A barricaded subject, an active shooter, something like that," he said. "It was beyond enlightening."

While there was no tactical training during the 10 weeks, Schmidt said there was plenty of physical training.

"It's a lot of PT," he said. "There's challenges every week that you have to pass in order to get to the final one."

The series of challenges, Schmidt said, is called "The Yellow Brick Road" because each challenge has something to do with "The Wizard of Oz."

"The 'Tin Man Trot' or the 'Flying Monkey,'" he said. "Stuff like that."

The final physical challenge is a 6.1 mile obstacle course completed a few days before graduation.



'Extremely proud'

One aspect not really highlighted or publicized about the academy, said Schmidt, is the opportunity to network "with all the other cops," something he believes was one of the greatest advantages of attending.

"You want to know what's going on in Utah, there's two or three guys from Utah," he said. "You want to know what's going on in Louisiana ... you get to find out what the best practices are all over the country, which is really cool. You get to find out what's going on in your neighbor states - Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana - and you quickly find out that a lot of the problems we're having here are everywhere. It's just on a different scale. It's good because it makes dealing with those problems a little easier. You know that other people have dealt with them before. You don't have to reinvent the wheel."

This interaction with members of other departments across the country left Schmidt feeling "extremely proud" of the Vilas County Sheriff's Department.

"How our department is," he said. "The people that we have here. When you listen and compare some of the stories from all over the country, we're very, very fortunate to have the people we have here. We've got a helluva group here, that's for sure."

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at bjopek@lakelandtimes.com.





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