Twenty-six anxious teens were driven by their parents to the Yale campus on July 24; there members of the FBI and Yale Police Department (YPD) awaited their arrival. No one was in trouble; in fact it was quite the opposite for these teens. They were the first young people chosen by FBI and YPD to participate in the new training program “Future Law Enforcement Youth Academy” (FLEYA).
FLEYA is the nation’s first week-long overnight youth academy hosted by the FBI and an Ivy League university, and its launch was highly anticipated by law enforcement officials for months. Discussions for establishing FLEYA began last October between FBI Special Agent In Charge Patricia Ferrick, FBI Community Outreach Specialist Charles Grady and Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins. The three worked together to develop an intense educational program for Connecticut youth who wish to pursue careers in law enforcement.
The classes wre taught by FBI personnel.
FLEYA offers academic and practical classes set in a college environment; the instructors are FBI special agents, investigative analysts, and other FBI career professionals. To promote inclusion among law enforcement partners in the state, the FBI invited participants from members of local police departments, the Connecticut State Police, the DEA, the ATF, the U.S. Marshalls Office, and state and federal probation offices, as well as a state judge and a representative from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, to take part in the inaugural session.
The student participants were chosen for the program by a panel of FBI and YPD staff. They competed in a three-step process: submitting an essay, taking part in a telephone interview, and attending a face-to-face panel interview at the FBI’s main office in New Haven. There were over 160 applicants from across the state, and those selected — 13 boys and 13 girls ages 15 to 18 — hail from multiple counties in Connecticut. The urban and suburban youth lived together for a week, learning the core values of law enforcement, as well as tolerance and awareness of culture as they worked in teams in several group assignments for the class.
Pictured at the FLEYA graduation ceremony are (from left) Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins, participant Cheyenne Antoine, and Kevin Kline, assistant special agent in charge for the Connecticut FBI. (Photo by Alaina Pritchard)
In addition to learning from a variety of law enforcement personnel, the FLEYA students traveled to the University of New Haven for lessons in forensics by the world-renowned Dr. Henry Lee, who presented two case studies to the group. On July 28, the students participated with officers and agents in a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at Yale’s Payne Whitney Gym. This event was designed to further encourage interaction and networking among students and law enforcement members from around the state. New Haven Police Academy recruits also participated in the tournament.
The FLEYA class ended with a graduation ceremony on July 29. Higgins and the other organizers said they hope that the FLEYA graduates will continue to network with each other and utilize lessons learned from the academy for their futures in law enforcement.