OLD BRIDGE – Only three officers within the Old Bridge Police Department have had the privilege of attending and graduating from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
Retired Chief of Police Thomas Collow, retired Captain Robert Weiss and current Police Captain Joseph Mandola, who said it was through the support of Police Chief William Volkert and the support of the Old Bridge Police Department (OBPD), were able to attend the selective, prestigious academy.
Mandola was one of 256 law enforcement officers who graduated from the academy on Sept. 13. FBI Director Christopher Asher Wray delivered remarks at the graduating ceremony, according to a release from the police department.
The captain was part of the 277th session of the National Academy, which consisted of men and women from the 50 states, District of Columbia, 34 international countries, five military organization and nine federal civilian organizations, the release said.
Internationally known for its academic excellence, the National Academy offers 10 weeks of advanced communication, leadership, and fitness training. Participants must have proven records as professionals within their agencies to attend. Less than 1% of the country’s law enforcement officers have the honor of graduating from the highly recognized academy, the release said.
“I can honestly say that attending and graduating from the FBI National Academy has been the pinnacle of my career, a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget,” Mandola said. “One of the greatest benefits was from living at the academy for 10 weeks. Eating meals together, studying together, sightseeing and touring the [Washington] DC area on weekends together helped to create friendships that would be hard pressed to ever be broken. We were all there for each other, had each other’s back, and fully supported each other.”
Mandola said with all his classmates – ranked senior police executives with many years on the job – they were able to learn from each other’s experiences as well as from the instructors during open forum class discussions.
“The knowledge gained and what I am able to bring back to my department is invaluable,” he said. “The academy also included physical fitness training class three to four times a week. Every week we had to take part in a physical challenge. If someone was having difficulty in the challenge, that person was supported by all until he/she completed it … no one was left behind – a true testament to our support of each other and bonding.”
Mandola said the physical training also helped bring him to a more positive level of fitness, one in which he intends to continue throughout his life.
A 28-year veteran of the OBPD, Mandola has served as patrol captain, detective bureau commander, and now currently captain of police administration. Mandola led the department to receive the highly regarded accreditation status in July 2014 and reaccreditation in July 2017. He earned a master’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University in administrative science, a certified public manager certification from the New Jersey State Civil Service Commission/Rutgers University, and Qualified Purchasing Agent certification from Rutgers University.