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Bristol Police Chief Will Head To Advanced FBI Training

Don Stacom
Contact Reporterdstacom@courant.com

Twenty-five years ago, Brian Gould — then a young police recruit — went through training on how to make traffic stops, disarm attackers, interview suspects and write accident reports.

Gould, now the city’s police chief, is headed back to the classroom this fall for 10 weeks in training of a different kind.

He’ll be at the FBI National Academy learning strategies for managing organizations, motivating supervisors, helping officers cope with stress, communicating on social media and more.

“This is a great opportunity to be in classes with police leaders from around the country — around the world. There’s a lot I’m going to be able to bring back to Bristol,” Gould said this week.

Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu endorsed the trip because she believes it can benefit the 125-member police force.

“This is very good for the city and the department,” she said. “The chief has consistently proven he is an innovator and open to new ways of continually improving.”

What Will Gould Study?

The graduate-level classes are designed for police executives and focus on communications and leadership skills. There also are plenty of law enforcement topics ranging from counter-terrorism to protecting a policy agency’s records from cyberhacking.

“One component I’m especially interested in is health and wellness. They’re very big on personal wellness and personal health — it’s a field where law enforcement is trying to catch up,” Gould said.

He has signed up for a class on mindfulness, and wants to explore the latest thinking on how better stress reduction and coping skills can help front-line officers — and thus the public.

“Every one of us has stressors. Many years ago, it was taboo to talk about in this profession. But it’s important to talk about it — understanding stress reduction can make you a better police officer and a better person.”

How will this benefit Bristol?

“Training can’t stop at the top — you have to continue to grow, find where your shortcomings are and improve on them,” Gould said. “I hope to get every one our lieutenants and sergeants to leadership development courses.”

Located in Reston, Va., the FBI National Academy is no small commitment. Participants are away from home for 10 weeks straight weeks of dorm living and cafeteria food, immersed in an intensive program that requires papers, tests, gym workouts and final 6.1-mile obstacle course run designed by the Marine Corps.

Gould intends to brief front-line officers, supervisors and commanders on what he learns, particularly in classes studying the psychology of leadership and the psychology of communication.

What will it cost Bristol taxpayers?

There are virtually no direct costs, although Gould will be paid while he is away. The department’s captains will be running the operation for those 10 weeks.

Travel, meal and housing expenses are covered by the FBI National Academy, and the city won’t have to pay tuition or other fees.

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