Covington Police Department Lt. Al Miller holds the yellow brick he was awarded for completing the Yellow Brick Road Challenge Run at the FBI National Academy Program this summer. The challenge runs were held each week of the academy beginning with 1.8 miles and ending with a 6.2 mile run. The brick commemorates the 246th session of the academy. Staff photo by Erin Evans.
COVINGTON -- Covington Police Department Lt. Al Miller has known for two years that he was on his way to the FBI National Academy and has worked hard to ensure his success. The effort paid off and he was one of 249 law enforcement professionals from around the world who graduated from the prestigious program in Quantico, Va., this summer.
"The experience of being up there in that training environment and meeting all those new people ... it was a good experience and it was challenging, too," Miller said recently.
The 10-week program includes a lot of classroom work, as well as physical fitness.
"It's all college courses and if you have a master's degree, you have to take at least one graduate level class. You get a total of 17 semester hours," Miller said, adding that he took three graduate level classes, two undergrad classes and the mandatory physical fitness class.
The academy is held four times a year and Georgia is eligible to send six or seven candidates to each academy, but acceptance is a lengthy and tedious process.
"I submitted my first application in 2009 and met with the coordinator for the first time in late 2010," Miller said. "From the time I first submitted my application to when I got my acceptance was close to two years."
Miller said at the CPD, all lieutenants get a chance to go to the academy in order of their seniority as lieutenants. And although he was aware of this practice, he put off preparing himself.
Several years earlier he had undergone back and neck surgery stemming from an old football injury, missing more than a year of work and then returning to light duty. The enforced rest took its toll. He gained 100 pounds that he had been unsuccessful in shedding.
"In 2009 when the chief told me I'd be the next FBI candidate, I knew I had to get back to the shape I was used to being in," Miller said. "I turned in my application and started back trying to exercise in mid-2009. And then in 2010, I began building back up to running and working out and trying to eat better. I started dropping the weight."
The first week at the academy, the scale showed Miller had dropped 80 pounds. By the end of the 10 weeks of physical fitness training there, the entire 100 pounds was missing from his frame.
"Going to the academy was just an added incentive and pushed me to do it," he said of losing the weight.
There were lots of other rewards offered during the 2 month course.
"I learned from one of the instructors about some really good programs to use as far as promoting community relations between law enforcement and the community as a whole," he said. "Also, I learned about some of the issues involved in terrorism, some of the mindsets ... I really enjoyed learning about some of their ideologies and why they think the way they do. And I learned a good bit about fitness. It wasn't just going out there and doing the activities. There was a lot of classroom work involved, too, on diet, training programs and things like that."
And Miller said his education didn't just come from the FBI instructors, but from his fellow classmates who were from agencies of all sizes and descriptions from around the world, including 28 foreign countries.
"Between the classroom and all the people I met, it was a very enlightening experience," Miller said.
Miller is in the Support Services Division and in the Office of Professional Standards at CPD. His division is in charge of background investigations, internal affairs investigations and community outreach.
He is married to Amy and they have three boys.
"I have to salute my wife for supporting me during this because it was hard on her," Miller said. "I can't thank her enough."