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Oak Harbor officer survives FBI’s ‘Yellow Brick Road’

Lt. John Dyer climbs a trail that’s part of the “Yellow Brick Road” obstacle course at FBI Headquarters. Dyer was chosen to attend the FBI’s Academy for law enforcement.  - Courtesy photo
Lt. John Dyer climbs a trail that’s part of the “Yellow Brick Road” obstacle course at FBI Headquarters. Dyer was chosen to attend the FBI’s Academy for law enforcement.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Lt. John Dyer now has something in common with Clarice Starling.

Dyer may not have chased serial killers like the fictional Starling, played by Jodie Foster in the movie “Silence of the Lambs.” Or as least he’s not admitting to it. But Dyer ran the legendary “Yellow Brick Road,” the obstacle course at FBI headquarters that Starling famously jogs in the movie.

“It’s definitely challenging,” Dyer admitted.

Dyer, the lieutenant in charge of patrol at the Oak Harbor Police Department, finished the 6.2-mile course. It’s part of an 11-week course at the FBI National Academy Program at Quantico, Va. He was one of 256 law enforcement officers from across the nation to be accepted into the prestigious program. He graduated March 18.

The academy, Dyer explained, is geared toward law enforcement officers who hold executive-level positions, so it’s not really about the nuts and bolts of police work. Instead, the courses focuses on leadership and larger law enforcement issues, such as constitutional law.

Dyer said many distinguished and experienced people lectured in courses, including a retired Marine Corps colonel, a storied FBI agent and the former chief of police for Spokane. He was especially impressed with Charles Ramsey, the commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department and former police chief for Washington, D.C.

Another class focused on dealing with the media. Dyer said they learned how to give press conferences or deal with split-screen interviews.

“There’s no other place where we would be able to get that kind of training and access to that kind of expertise if it wasn’t put on by the federal government,” he said.

An emphasis of the academy, Dyer said, was on the importance of physical fitness for police officers. Thus, everyone was expected to complete the Yellow Brick Road. He said participants had to pass an exhaustive physical exam before being accepted to the academy so no one keels over on the course.

Just as valuable as the classes, Dyer said, was the opportunity to network with other law enforcement officers in the state and beyond. He learned a lot from talking to people at the academy and has stayed in touch since then.

“The accumulated experience in the room is hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years,” he said.

Dyer is now part of a 44,280-strong club of men and women who have gone through the FBI National Academy since it began in 1935. Approximately 26,768 are still active in law enforcement, which will be a valuable resource to draw on.

“The members of the Oak Harbor Police Department are very proud of Lt. Dyer’s academic achievement,” Oak Harbor Police Chief Rick Wallace said. “His commitment to this intensive and comprehensive eleven week program represents our dedication to the citizens of Oak Harbor to provide professional law enforcement service.”

Dyer said he didn’t see a lot of agents in suits and sunglasses as the FBI HQ. But he did get a tour that included the behavioral sciences unit of the academy. There was no Jodie Foster, but he did take a photo of the FBI’s life-sized statue of Hannibal Lecter behind bars.

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