Friday Feb 28, 2014
Chief Patricia Nowak, at the helm of the Indiana University Police Department – Northwest since July 2012, is currently in Quantico, Virginia, completing a highly prestigious training program with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The FBI National Academy is by invitation only, through a nomination process. The 10-week program, in existence since the 1930s, encompasses intense physical training as well as academic instruction through the University of Virginia. It is intended to enhance participants’ leadership skills and instill cooperation between local and federal law enforcement agencies.
While Nowak’s seat at the FBI National Academy is certainly one of the more impressive training opportunities for law enforcement, it is not a rare occurrence within the IUPD-NW, where at least two officers are in some sort of training at any given time. Nowak sees continual training to as part of her officers’ everyday jobs.
The patrols’ training topics are seemingly endless. Active shooter. Self-defense. Alcohol detection. Radar Operations. Investigations. CPR. Firearms. Vehicle Operation. Much of the training is mandated by the state.
Nowak and her officers are working to shatter the myth that a university department is somehow less skilled than a large city department. And to those who might question the need for such extensive and diverse training because of the low incidence of crime on campus, to that, Nowak says, “precisely.”
In fact, the low crime on campus, she said, is partially due to the department’s involvement in the surrounding neighborhoods.
“We protect the campus, really, by protecting the perimeter of the campus,” Nowak said.
That means being prepared for anything that could happen in a metropolitan city.
“It is extremely important that your officers are well-trained,” Nowak said. “We want them to have what’s called ‘muscle memory.’ If you repeat a certain behavior enough, your brain learns the response and you don’t have to think about the steps.”
The officers also undergo training to help them solve, and thwart, crimes.
Recently, IUPD-NW officers apprehended a suspect involved in the intended theft of computers in the Dunes Medical/Professional Building. The crime was thwarted thanks to officers’ swift thinking..
With Nowak’s new FBI-level experience, her repertoire just went global. She is among law enforcement officials who represent 26 countries around the world. She said she values the collaboration amongst law enforcement leaders across the globe and she intends to bring the best practices she learns to IU Northwest.
“I am learning about their policing styles and what works and what doesn’t work. . . . “I don’t have to try something for 10 years to figure out what works and what doesn’t,” Nowak said.
Now in the final leg of her training, Nowak is chest-deep in assignments, papers, presentations and exams, not to mention the intense physical training. Every Wednesday, for instance, the students participate in another challenge, one that will prepare them for the ultimate “Yellow Brick Road” challenge, a well-known FBI exercise – a grueling 7-mile run involving ropes, fences, water obstacles and more.