Kang returns from FBI National Training Academy

Police chief hopes to use experience to improve department
By Brandon Gustafson | Sep 19, 2018
Photo by: Cheol Kang Mukilteo Police Chief Cheol Kang was one of 228 law enforcement members to partake in the FBI’s 10-week National Training Academy. Kang returned to Mukilteo Monday, Sept. 17.

The friendly face of Mukilteo Police Chief Cheol Kang has been missing in town for the last few months, but he made his return with a plethora of new knowledge to share with his department and the city.

Kang returned to work on Monday, Sept. 17, after participating in a 10-week course at the FBI’s Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

“It truly was top-notch, cutting-edge training,” Kang said.

The program is offered for the betterment of both the FBI as well as those attending, Kang said.

“In order for the FBI to be successful, they need local law enforcement agencies to be up to the challenges,” Kang said. “The same goes the other way. If something bigger happens that requires the FBI to come in, local agencies need to be prepared. It’s great to build those relationships.”

The 10-week program was three-pronged, with  focuses on academics, physical fitness/training, and networking. Kang was one of 228 police officers or sheriffs to take the class, which also had 25 international students.

Kang said the academy has a long waiting list, and only a certain number of students in each state are accepted. He was on the waitlist for the last three years.

“It’s been about two decades since the Mukilteo Police Department sent someone there,” Kang said.

One of the biggest takeaways for Kang was how similar everyone’s background was, no matter where they came from.

“Regardless of where you are, policing is pretty similar,” Kang said. “Rank and department size, it’s all thrown out once you enter the academy. It creates an equal education for everyone. Some of the best thoughts came from people from smaller agencies.

“Everyone had the same uniform of a green polo, khakis, and a name tag with your name and state. It made it easier to interact.”

Kang said he likes the size of the Mukilteo Police Department compared to some of the departments his academy colleagues came from.

“We’re not that big, and I like it that way. I know everyone and everyone’s name, and we can talk about personal things like their families,” Kang said. “Things also ran really smooth all summer while I was gone. We have some really good people here at the department.”

Kang said one of the more insightful experiences was having the opportunity to hear from key law enforcement officers from the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, the Sandy Hook shooting, the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, and other large-scale traumatic events.

“Learning from them what went well and what could have been improved is really important to bring back home,” he said.

During the training, Kang and his fellow students took six classes that went from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. throughout the week. They also participated in “enrichment trips” to places like museums, with each location giving different meaning to the law enforcement nexus.

“You need to learn from history in order to better take care of your communities,” Kang said.

The enrichment experience that stood out the most, in Kang’s view, was visiting the Virginia Holocaust Museum.

“I was left speechless,” Kang said. “My biggest takeaway was how does that happen to us? It all comes back to what’s our role (as law enforcement), and how can we better enhance how we do our job and prevent things like that from happening.”

His biggest takeaway was discussing community relations, something he takes great pride in here in Mukilteo.

“People have to buy in to community relationships. If my staff doesn’t, everything I say to the community doesn’t mean anything,” Kang said. “One of those relationships is with the media. It’s a partnership. We have to do our part so they can help get the word out.”

Another main takeaway was focusing on personal well-being in regards to fitness, but also spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.

Kang said, with his role as a leader, he needs to lead by example.

“We can all make time to do self work,” he said. “I need to set an example that I can take care of myself, so I can lead others to feel the same way.”

Regarding spiritual, mental, and emotional well-being, Kang is going to implement a department wellness program to help officers who have dealt with traumatic situations on the job.

“Officers often try to put up this face of ‘nothing affects me,’ but some of the things we see, it gets to you,” Kang said. “I read a study that we lose more officers to suicide than we lose in the line of duty. That’s not OK.

“You do a homicide investigation, that stays with you. If you’re human, it affects you and gets to you.”

Kang is happy to be back home and getting back into the swing of things, but has nothing but fond memories of his time in Virginia.

“At the end of the day, I’m thankful to have been selected,” he said. “I had the full support of the mayor, our management services director, and the department held down the fort. I’m excited to take the ideas I learned and implement them here.”

 

 

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