Published November 13, 2019
University Police Lt. Stacy Tuberdyke, who has 11 years’ service with UPD, has become the newest member of the department to graduate from the FBI National Academy.
Tuberdyke was one of 256 law enforcement officers who graduated in September from the National Academy, located in Quantico, Virginia.
UB Chief of Police Chris Bartolomei, Deputy Chief Mark Gates, Deputy Chief Joshua Sticht and Lt. Scott Bixby are also graduates of the National Academy, in addition to past UPD Chief Gerald Schoenle Jr., Assistant Chief John Woods and Amy Pedlow, a former UPD lieutenant who is now assistant chief of police at SUNY Buffalo State.
Attending the 277th session of the academy were men and women from 50 states and the District of Columbia. The class included members of law enforcement agencies from 34 countries, five military organizations and nine federal civilian organizations.
Internationally known for its academic excellence, the FBI National Academy offers 10 weeks of advanced communication, leadership and fitness training. Participants must have proven records as professionals within their agencies.
“Few police departments would afford as many staff members the opportunity to attend a three-month residential training program out of state,” says Bartolomei. “It’s an example of our commitment to continuous staff development, and the reason we have such well-educated, highly trained professionals on our force.”
Most police officers hired to work at UB exceed the minimum education requirements for the position, and several hold master’s degrees, Bartolomei says.
“When I was offered the opportunity to attend the National Academy, I understood I was going to executive law enforcement training,” says Tuberdyke. “What I didn’t know was I would basically be in college for the summer, right down to having a college dormitory setting at Quantico.
“The overarching premise for the National Academy is threefold: there is an education aspect, the physical training aspect and a social component — an opportunity to become part of their network of graduates.”
Tuberdyke says those who attend the National Academy with bachelor’s degrees are encouraged by academy instructors to take graduate-level classes there.
“I am interested in officer wellness, helping to bring change to the lives of officers, to improve their ability to manage the high stress levels that come with police work,” Tuberdyke says. “So my graduate-level classes included one in EI — emotional intelligence — and another in wellness and vitality for law enforcement, in addition to others on leadership, as well as other subjects.”
Tuberdyke explains that not actively managing the effects of stress can negatively affect an officer’s ability to protect themselves and others.
“In this profession, stress and trauma are an inherent part of the job,” she says.
“Officer wellness is so important because, speaking about police officers in general, nobody takes care of themselves. They push hard to meet the demands of the job, burning the candle at both ends.
“And for the third straight year, police suicides outnumber line-of-duty deaths: at least 159 officers nationally in 2018; another figure has it at 167,” Tuberdyke says. “Seeking wellness, seeking help with the sorts of issues that can make officers feel they have to make that kind of choice is stigmatized. We have to de-stigmatize it because this is a huge issue for officers and their families and the public they work to protect.”
Tuberdyke says National Academy classes also featured presentations in which the instructors delivered point-by-point breakdowns of recent high-impact crises.
“One of the classes was a four-hour rundown of the Pulse nightclub shooting from 2016 in Orlando, Florida,” she says. “The presenter was one of my own classmates, Doug Goerke, who is deputy chief of the Orlando Police Department, who had gone through it.
“He completely broke it down for us: what went well, as far as law enforcement response, what didn’t, what could have — and should have — been done better. They detailed what police everywhere have learned from that, and how we can use the knowledge to better serve our communities.”
Tuberdyke says instructors also did a breakdown of the October 2006 shooting at West Nickel Mines School, a one-room schoolhouse in the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, in which five girls at the school died.
Tuberdyke says leaving a legacy was also among the topics discussed by National Academy instructors.
“In the leadership class that I took, the instructor asked all of us, ‘What’s your legacy? What are you leaving when you leave your law enforcement career?’ Here I am 11 years in, and I initially thought, ‘This is not the time to think about a legacy. But actually, it is.’
“For me, I realized it can be something as basic as getting a wellness plan in place for our officers, something that will help,” says Tuberdyke. “It might be something that other Western New York law enforcement agencies might want to adapt to fit into their police force or agency.”
Besides attending the National Academy, Tuberdyke is working on a master’s degree in creativity at SUNY Buffalo State.
“What I want to do with that is to consult, possibly with police and law enforcement agencies,” she says, “with a goal of developing training to help police officers better cope with the challenges and stress of the job.
“I kind of dedicated my studies to this this past summer at the National Academy. Now that I have graduated from the academy, the two are becoming one.”
Tuberdyke is also a certified yoga instructor. “When I arrived at the National Academy, I joined a yoga studio in Stafford, Virginia, which was close to the Marine base at Quantico. So everyone in my class learned I am a yoga teacher,” she says.
Tuberdyke offered yoga classes for the members of law enforcement agencies who were there with her at the National Academy. “These became quite popular. We held them on the pool deck because there is no yoga studio inside Quantico.”
Tuberdyke then learned the director of the academy also believed in the benefits of wellness. “I discovered he believes these benefits are important enough that they want to incorporate this more into the holistic experience of the FBI National Academy.”
Since she has been back, Tuberdyke says she and the instructor who coordinates program material for the academy have communicated back and forth about the topic of health and wellness for law enforcement.
“I don’t think he is going to try and get me back down there to teach yoga to National Academy classes,” she says. “But I do think he is going to try and link up with that little yoga studio in Stafford to see if they want to allow some of their instructors to become a part of the National Academy program.”
Tuberdyke says the benefits to those taking the yoga classes would be real and holistic.
“It would not force the officers to bend where they can’t bend, but rather, to unplug for 45 minutes for the class, relax and breathe. And maybe find a way to continue this when they get back to their job, to help them bend, but not break.”
Congratulations! So wonderful to see the opportunity for you to continue your leadership journey!