Capt. Toom is the first Milford officer to be accepted to FBI Academy

MILFORD – Police Capt. Stephen Toom joined an elite group of police officers this spring when he attended the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.

Less than one percent of all law enforcement personnel in the United States are accepted into the 10-week program, and Toom was the first Milford officer, although Chief Michael Viola graduated from the academy before he was hired here last year.

Nominated by retired Milford Police Chief Fred Douglas in 2008, Toom not only graduated, he earned a 4.0 grade point average and received 17 credits from the University of Virginia.

To enter the FBI Academy, a police officer has to have the rank of lieutenant or above and go through a long application process, including an interview and a rigorous background check, Toom said during a recent interview at the police station.

“It was definitely a great opportunity … I was very honored” to be selected, he said. “I learned a lot.”

Classes each day – in leadership, forensics, behavioral science, communications and ethics and leadership – began at 8:30 a.m. and ended at 5:30 p.m. and were preceded by early morning physical fitness training.

The final, and optional, test of the program’s fitness challenges was the grueling “Yellow Brick Road,” a 6.1-mile run through a hilly, wooded trail built by the Marines, according to the FBI website.

Along the way, participants must climb over walls, run through creeks, jump through simulated windows, scale rock faces with ropes, crawl under barbed wire in muddy water and maneuver across a cargo net.

Academies are held four times a year, and Toom was part of the FBI’s 253rd Academy.

Overall, the graduate-level program was “very tough, both physically and academically,” he said.

Officers from all over the United States were there – Toom was the only one from New Hampshire, but there were 19 from Texas in a class of 220 – and he appreciated the chance to network with peers. That networking is ongoing.

“I’ve called them for help on cases and with management questions,” he said, “and they call me, too.”

It was interesting to see how a large city like Houston, Texas, for example, presents similar challenges for police, but on a smaller scale, he said.

Toom lives in Milford with his wife, Robin, and their two children, Caitlyn, 10, and Stephen, 9. They had family face-time using their iPhones during the 10-week separation.

According to the FBI website, the FBI National Academy is a professional course of study for U.S. and international law enforcement leaders that serves to improve the administration of justice in police departments and agencies at home and abroad and to raise law enforcement standards,

Toom, who is 39, has been with the Milford Police Department since 1998 and is currently its operations captain, overseeing the basic operation of the police department on a daily basis and answering directly to the chief. He has been a police officer in New Hampshire since 1995 and holds an associate’s degree in criminal justice and graduated from the 107th NH Police Academy in 1995.

He says he plans to stay with the Milford Police Department for several more years and may go back to college on a part-time basis with the ultimate goal of receiving a master’s degree in public administration or a related field.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or at kcleveland@cabinet.com.