For more than a month NC State Police Department Maj. Ian Kendrick and his roommate at the FBI campus in Quantico, Virginia, had a great time participating in and bonding over their rugged 10-week course of study at the FBI National Academy.
His roommate, Alex, was one of several international students at the four-times-a-year intensive training program for public safety managers, which includes a functional physical training component and five other specified training classes designed to improve law enforcement through information and idea sharing, creativity and collaboration and the advancement of the profession through proactive improvement.
Kendrick, a 16-year veteran of the university’s Police Department, enjoyed learning from his roommate’s culture, even if there were language and cultural barriers they needed to overcome to enjoy their long talks into the night.
Then on Feb. 24 — the day Russian forces invaded Ukraine in an aggressive attack on global security — things changed dramatically. Kendrick could see it in his roommate’s eyes and hear it in his frantic voice during difficult calls back home.
Alex, you see, is from Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city.
For the remainder of their training program, Kendrick and the other 260 police and security officers from around the world enrolled in the program watched as Alex worried over his family, his colleagues, his country.
“There was definitely a change,” Kendrick says. “I could see the stress and hear the stress in his voice. It was interesting to watch an individual go from this outgoing, happy individual with not much on him other than the academic work we were doing to being someone thousands of miles away from his immediate and extended family.
“The experience galvanized us as friends and made an impact on the entire class.”
Bringing People Together
And, at its foundation, that’s the goal of the National Academy, which has conducted nearly 300 sessions since its inception in 1935, giving thousands of enforcement officers educational tools to improve the communities they serve.
“It’s designed to bring people together, to share ideas, build friendships that we can carry through the rest of our careers and the rest of our lives,” Kendrick says. “With what Alex was going through, it brought us all together that much quicker. We rallied behind him to support him in what he was going through.”
Not surprisingly, the other members of the class ran towards the fire for their new friend. At the end of the 10-week class, they loaded him down with surplus protective gear and other needed equipment they could send with him as he scrambled to get back to his war-scarred hometown immediately after their March 17 graduation from the program.
“It was just basic equipment people were intending to surplus, stuff we don’t have any problem getting here,” Kendrick says. “So our class was pulling stuff out of the back of our cars and handing it to him and saying, ‘This is for your guys.’
“I can’t tell you how many times we were in our room at night after class and people were stopping by and, and saying, ‘Hey man, what do you need? What does your family need? What do your friends need? Is there anything we can send over to them?’”
Kendrick, 47, believes the relationship he and his classmates developed with Alex enhanced what always has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the enforcement officers who go through the highly selective process to attend the training academy for which only about 1% of law enforcement officers around the world qualify.
Building Better Communities
He is also sure that his experience —which included core classes in leadership and physical training and four elective course — will benefit the relationships he has built during his two decades on NC State’s campus.
In addition to classes on constitutional law, national and international terrorism and emerging technologies, Kendrick took an elective course on breaking barriers and building better relationships within communities.
“That was easily the most important part of the program for me,” says Kendrick, who joined the university police in 2006 after more than eight years at the Rocky Mount Police Department. “For what I do and the environment where I work that was bar-none the best thing I did while I was there.”
His goal now is to make sure his extensive notes and the relationships he built with classmates and professors create a lasting positive effect for the NC State community, where since his return in March he was promoted to administrative division commander, overseeing a variety of important services, such as professional standards, Clery Act compliance, the emergency communications center, records and the motor fleet, among other duties.
“Everybody I talked to before I went said this program would be the greatest experience of my career,” Kendrick says. “I was skeptical about that, but I can now honestly say that it’s true because of the things I saw, the things I did and the people I met.
“It was the single greatest experience of my law enforcement career. Now the burden is on me to take what I have learned and translate that into the real world here at NC State and not let any of it go to waste.”
Kendrick hears from Alex from time to time, using an international communications app they share. He and his family are doing well as Kyiv attempts to get back to normal as Russian forces have withdrawn and concentrated their attacks on other areas of Ukraine.
“He is safe, and his family is safe,” Kendrick says. “It’s comforting to know that he made it back home — even though it wasn’t the same home he left.”