United by a passion and desire to improve the policing profession, 225 law enforcement executives were chosen to be part of the latest class of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Academy.
Inspector Ian Stratford was chosen by his peers in Toronto to attend the 10-week program at the FBI campus in Quantico, Virginia, while the graduating class from 23 international police agencies, chose him to be their valedictorian.
Recognized for its academic excellence, the program offers advanced communication, leadership and fitness s training for selected officers who have at least two decades of law-enforcement experience and are serving in an executive-level position in their organization.
In his 30th year with Toronto Police Service, Stratford, a member of Professional Standards, prosecutes internal disciplinary matters.
“It goes without saying that to be one of two Canadians in this group and to be chosen by my peers to represent their interests at the graduation was very significant and humbling,” he said.
In his valedictorian address, Stratford thanked the national academy staff for offering an environment for continuous learning that allowed personal growth to flourish.
FBI academy instructional staff, special agents and other staff members holding advanced degrees provide the specialized training.
“The road was rigorous and challenging, both intellectually and physically,” he said, of the full-time Monday to Friday program. “The lectures, presentations and discussions allowed us to expand our minds. We were provided with an opportunity to learn from each other by sharing diverse views and perspectives and, along the way, we broadened our appreciation of the complex issues facing policing today.”
“There were various classes based on course selections,” Stratford said. “Once a week, we got together in a full session to engage in a law enforcement challenge around such things as physical fitness and teamwork. On the 9/11 anniversary, we ran 110 flight of stairs to remember those first-responders who lost their lives in the two towers on September 11, 2001.
Stratford also spoke on behalf of the class at the National Police Memorial in Washington.
Since its establishment in 1935, the academy has turned out 48,561 graduates, including this year’s class.
“Many of the associates, who we may never personally meet, are unified by the ‘Yellow Brick Road’ which paves the way for dialogue, sharing and co-operation,” Stratford said. “We now have the responsibility to demonstrate the power and synergy that comes from such an experience… Today, issues in law enforcement are global in nature and have no boundaries. The increased use of the internet and social media has resulted in faster dissemination of information. It is all the more important, therefore, that we, as law enforcement leaders having the responsibility to protect our communities, remain tightly connected to each other.”
Stratford, who grew up in Quebec and graduated from a police foundations program in that province, has been a police officer for the last three decades.
“I wanted a job where I didn’t have to do the same thing every day,” he said. “In my 30 years, I have had a lot of careers within this one career. It provides different opportunities to explore different things and I am grateful for that.”
Starting at 14 Division, Stratford was assigned three years later to the Morality Bureau. In the early 1990s, retired Chief Bill Blair – who nominated Stratford to attend the FBI academy this year – selected him to work with the Drug Squad the former Chief headed.
Promoted to Sergeant in 2000, Stratford was a supervisor at 23 Division before becoming a member of the Homicide Squad for two years and the executive officer to now Deputy Chief Peter Sloly. He was the acting manager for the Employee and Family Assistance (EAFP) program for two years prior to being promoted to Inspector in 2010.
Current TPS members who have graduated from the FBI academy include Deputy Chiefs Mike Federico and Peter Sloly, Staff Superintendents Rick Stubbings and Tom Russell, Superintendents Don Campbell, Gord Jones and Randy Carter and Inspector Ed Boyd.