Ok not really, but close enough.
It’s been a few weeks now, since I returned from one of the coolest experiences of my later years. I was given a wonderful opportunity to speak at the FBI National Academy Association in Dallas, TX. I really had no idea what I was agreeing to do, but a dear friend of mine recommended me as the Keynote Speaker for the Women’s Delegate Breakfast, I accepted and off I went to 110 degree heat and 100% humidity.
What I wouldn’t know before I left, was that I would be spending 5 days with the most seasoned and highest ranking law enforcement officials from all over the globe. From the Canucks of Canada to the Gators of Florida, ya throw in an Australian or two and you have yourself a mecca of influence and power and I was a fly on the wall of it all. Too cool.
“The FBI NAA is a non-profit, international organization of nearly 18,000 senior law enforcement professionals dedicated to providing our communities, states, countries, and profession with the highest degree of law enforcement expertise, training, education and information. We are the strongest law enforcement leadership network in the world and are dedicated to strengthening the rule of law around the globe. Some of our members have given their lives in carrying out these responsibilities.” ** In layman’s terms: it’s a group of bad ass, elite law enforcement that apply for and subsequently get hand picked to attend the prestigious 10 week National Training Academy in Quantico, VA. According to a few graduates, “it’s life changing.”
I had the honor of hanging with some remarkable people who shared with me what life is like in their hometowns and what they hoped to bring back to their communities. I learned how receptive law enforcement officials are to networking, leadership, advancement of their teams/departments, and to learning the latest technology/social media or about the marked improvements to Police Officer uniforms … I even witnessed how much they like to “whoop it up”.
Between days of seminars and workshops, to special events at Dallas Cowboys Stadium, the famous Billy Bobs (the worlds largest Honky Tonk where only LIVE bull riding exists, none of that mechanical bull stuff!), the casino night and family friendly festivities … to listening to Hall of Famer, Texas Ranger Nolan Ryan as the keynote speaker and Robert Mueller, the FBI Director welcoming all the delegates, to all night drinking and dancing at the Glass Cactus lounge - this was quite a whirlwind few days. I still think I am recovering.
But then it was my turn. On Tuesday, I walked into a room of close to 100 women who serve as Captains, Sergeants, Lieutenants and Commanders of police departments from every zip code; and I had their attention for as long as their coffee didn’t get cold. I spoke to them from my heart about the need to be sensitive when addressing a victim/survivor. I reminded them of their role in our journey and how integral a part they played in our healing process. I shared with them the experiences we had with our trial and our police department (both the good and the bad) and was met with “oooh that’s horrible” and “awww, that’s wonderful” – tears shed, heads nodding and a tremendous amount of respect flowed in that room – mostly me towards them.
As I stood before this group of incredibly brave and dedicated women, I tried not to preach or lecture; after all, who am I to tell them how to do their job? So instead, I chose to speak from a place of compassion and candor; acknowledging them for their sacrifices to keep us safe, but reminding them that how they show up for us in our greatest hours of darkness - leaves a “forever impression”. There was a lot of sniffling in that banquet hall.
I will always treasure this trip for not only providing me the forum to meet some amazing people, that I know will be in my life forever (and that if god forbid I ever get myself in trouble, I know I have a “get of jail free card” in lots of places); but for also reminding me of the tremendous good that is being done all across the country to improve our communities, our laws, our safety and our futures. I have always been an advocate for Law Enforcement (despite what people assume because of the outcome of my brother’s murder trial) … and being in Dallas during the hottest summer in years, helped me solidify how lucky we are to live in a country with such integrity, honor and courage.
Thank You FBI NAA and my friend G.M.
“Friendships are born, knowledge is learned, lives are changed”