An Opportunity Like No Other
By Jon "J.T." Taylor
Ten weeks ago 227 law enforcement leaders from 48 states and 25 countries assembled here at Quantico and set course for the unknown and the uncomfortable. Most, if not all, were strangers on January 9. But, as strangers we shared common purposes: to better ourselves, each other, and our profession. By virtue of our arrival, we knew that working hard, sacrificing, and embracing new challenges would be required. Today, we no longer are strangers. We are session 267―a blended and diverse family of law enforcement professionals.
On behalf of the FBI National Academy (NA) and session 267, welcome to this special ceremony. I want to thank our families and distinguished guests for making it here to celebrate this milestone in our careers. Thank you to our academic and physical fitness instructors for their encouragement and support. We honor you by leaving here today smarter and stronger, yet humbled by your commitment to excellence and our success. I also want to recognize Assistant Director David Resch and the NA staff for keeping us on track and serving the leaders of today and tomorrow with your leadership.
Less than 1 percent of law enforcement will have the opportunity to attend the NA. As the landscape of policing continues to evolve and face unprecedented challenges, the NA provides the essential training for law enforcement executives. But, it’s more than just training.
You see, our chosen profession is something not everyone can do. We have dedicated our lives to serving others and making the world a safer place. Those years of work can take a toll mentally and physically. So, we needed this to focus on ourselves and our futures, to refresh and reengage. And, there is no other place of refuge that offers what the NA can.
Together, we have shared our stories, our victories, and our failures. We have supported each other and pushed each other to be better than most. Ladies and gentlemen, the 267 is a special group of people. They are some of the finest our profession has. And, I love what they stand for: knowledge, courage, and integrity.
Since 1935, each session has carved its own path and history within the walls of this academy. And, 267 is no different. We visited the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, New York City, and Philadelphia. We enjoyed International Night; the Silent Auction, with a fellow NA student as our auctioneer; and Texas and Louisiana Nights. We faced weekly physical fitness challenges that were framed after the Wizard of Oz:
Assistant Chief Taylor of the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, Airport Police Department delivered this speech at the FBI National Academy Session 267 graduation on March 17, 2017, in Quantico, Virginia.
- Tin Man Trot
- Not in Kansas Anymore
- The Cyclone
- Lion’s Leap
- Wicked Witch Hunt
- Winged Monkey Assault
- Journey to Oz
The challenges prepared us for the Yellow Brick Road: 6.1 miles of endurance and strength. But, these challenges made us realize and appreciate the most important thing about this journey—there’s no place like home.
On behalf of 267, I want to address the families and loved ones here today. You have played a crucial role supporting these men and women the past 10 weeks and throughout their careers. That hasn’t been easy on you. We want you to know that every drop of blood, sweat, and tears shed here was with purpose, to make us better in our professional lives and at home.
While we were working hard in the classroom and on the track, you made sure life kept moving at home. You fixed the leaky faucets, plowed the snow, mowed the lawn, and paid the bills. You made sure the kids made it to school and did their homework. You fixed their lunches and tucked them in at night. You kept life moving. We hope you missed us as much as we missed you. Today is a special day for us, but we always will yield to the fact that we couldn’t do what we do without you. We want you to know how much we appreciate you, how much we love you. And, we are coming home.
I want to recognize my wife, kids, and other family members here. I also want to honor someone who is not here, but, oh, how I wish she could be―my mother. Allow me to take a moment to tell you what the number 267 means to me. I am my mother’s second son. Mom passed in February 2011 at 67 years of age—the 2, the 6, and the 7. Today, March 17, is her birthday. Happy birthday, mom.
I would like to share with you the poem Lieutenant Michael Sheffer of the FBI Police, a member of our graduating class, wrote for session 267.
I am descended from the sheep dog, born of honor and courage.
I’m from the 50 states and nations abroad.
From the 1 percent and those who came before me.
I’m from the guardians of society, who protect all from the darkness.
I’m from 6.1 miles of pain, a yellow brick road paid for by triumph and teamwork.
I am a nomad; I have traveled to New York, Philadelphia, D.C., and everywhere in between.
I’m from the boardroom, where friendships and memories are made.
I’m from my brothers and sisters in blue, who I would give my life for.
I’m from the anger, pain, sweat, and tears and the will to do it all over again.
I’m from the loss of friends and partners and their memory that lives on.
I’m from the family at home, who prays they see me again.
I’m from the men and women who forever bleed blue.
From the band of warriors, who lead by example.
I’m from the National Academy, Session 267.
I thank my counselor and all FBI counselors for joining us, as well as Director James Comey for his leadership and presence here today. I thank session 267 for the opportunity to represent them. Session 267, be humble, but at the same time relish the fact that you are good at what you do. Continue to build on your confidence for future opportunities. Better yourselves, each other, and our profession with knowledge, courage, and integrity. Be proud of who you are, love your families, and be safe getting home. Thank you.
Assistant Chief Taylor may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.