STAFFORD, VA — The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy graduated the first Arab American law enforcement executive.
On March 16, Mike Jaafar, chief of operations of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, graduated from the FBI’s National Academy, a professional course of study for U.S. and international law enforcement managers nominated by their agency heads because they’ve demonstrated leadership qualities. The 10-week program provides coursework in physical fitness, intelligence theory, terrorism and terrorist mindsets, management science, law enforcement leadership, behavioral science, law enforcement communication and forensic science.
I’m privileged and honored for the support I received from many community members. It was an absolute treat to be a part of such a prestigious course, coming from our neck of the woods.
The academy serves to improve the administration of justice in police departments and agencies at home and abroad and to raise law enforcement standards, knowledge and cooperation worldwide.
Only the top 1 percent of all enforcement leaders worldwide have the opportunity to graduate from the FBI National Academy, according to the program.
Jaafar, 43, and the father of five, was raised in Dearborn and graduated from Fordson High School. He has a long history in law enforcement within the county, dating back to 1994 when he became an officer with the Detroit Police Department.
He spent 15 years at the Detroit Police Department before moving to the sheriff’s office, where he oversees operational enforcement of Wayne County’s 43 cities and townships. In October 2016, he was promoted from deputy chief to chief of operations.
“This was the most memorable law enforcement training I have ever experienced in life; I will forever cherish this opportunity,” Jaafar said in a statement on the Wayne County Sheriff’s website. “The camaraderie, network and people involved have become like family – I met people from all over the world. It was priceless.”
According to that same statement, Jaafar was highly successful, earning the prestigious Yellow Brick for successfully completing the running obstacle course designed by the Marines.
The course is a 6.2 mile journey that includes a running obstacle trail through the woods of Quantico, VA., site of the FBI’s headquarters, where he ran a mile in seven minutes and four seconds, in addition to earning the Bike Brick and Rowing Brick awards for the physical challenges.
“The curriculum and agility is second to none,” Jaafar said.
“Completion of this prestigious national program will benefit the Sheriff’s Office and help continue to provide our citizens with excellent law enforcement,” the Sheriff’s Office said in the statement.
Jaafar said he was one of about 200 police executives from around the country, including 17 from abroad, at the academy. He added that about 20 police executives from Michigan are selected to attend the academy annually.
They all stayed under one roof for about three months and become like family, he said.
Jaafar said he received exceptional psychical fitness and nutrition training, trimming down 10 pounds and shortening his running pace.
Of the terrorism-related courses, he said he can “attest to fact that the FBI is without questions here to protect every citizen” of this country, including Arab Americans.
The program, which he said was developed at the University of Virginia, also included high-profile speakers who gave crime-fighting advice.
Jaafar added that although some community members might be skeptical about working closely with law enforcement agencies, especially the FBI, his goal is to take back what he learned and implement them in ways that best protect his community.
He stressed that the FBI acknowledges differences in opinion on how suspects are identified as terrorists, but said they are committed to separating mentally unfit individuals from terrorists.
Jaafar also said he learned the FBI is emphasizing more diversity when recruiting. In fact, there are Arab American FBI agents.
“I’m privileged and honored for the support I received form many community members,” he said. “It was an absolute treat to be a part of such a prestigious course, coming from our neck of the woods.”
He also said he believes he represented the Wayne County community well and thanked Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon for sponsoring him and the Detroit FBI office for extending the invitation.
Napoleon is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.