LAWRENCEVILLE - Three Gwinnett police officials graduated in June from the FBI National Academy Program at Quantico, Va. Braselton Assistant Police Chief Lou Solis, Norcross Police Chief Dallas Stidd and Gwinnett County Assistant Chief Butch Ayers, all veterans of the Gwinnett County Police Department, completed the elite 10-week program as a part of its 237th session, finishing in a class of 250.
Solis, who has worked with the Braselton Police Department for six years, retired from the United States Army Special Operations Unit before serving for the Marietta Police Department as a member of the SWAT team. Prior to joining the Braselton Police Department, Solis went to Iraq with the State Department.
"This was by far the best class I've attended," said Solis. "I got lucky (to attend). People usually wait four to five years to go. I was on the list for over a year."
Ayers commands the Uniform Division of the Police Department. It is the largest division in the department and is primarily responsible for responding to all 911 calls for service within unincorporated Gwinnett County. Ayers has served his 25 years in law enforcement exclusively in Gwinnett.
Stidd, a 21-year veteran of the Norcross Police Department, began his career as a patrolman in 1988. Stidd was appointed Chief in 2005 after serving a year in Iraq as a contractor. Stidd applied to the program to challenge himself and to further his educational opportunities.
"One-half of one percent of law enforcement officers are able to attend the National Academy," said Stidd. "I consider this an honor."
The National Academy Program includes 10 weeks of advanced investigative, managerial and fitness training for select officers with exemplary records as professionals within their agencies. Participation is by invitation only, through a nomination process.
"Listening about the different issues and challenges facing law enforcement leaders throughout the United States and in several foreign countries gave me a different perspective to the issues we are currently facing here in Georgia and Gwinnett County," said Ayers, citing the "camaraderie and networking" as one of the most important experiences of the program.
"It became clear," Stidd said, "the police departments in Gwinnett - county, city and sheriff - are some of the finest law enforcement professionals in the world."
Following graduation, each officer has the opportunity to join the FBI National Academy Associates, an organization of more than 15,000 law enforcement professionals who actively work to continue developing higher levels of competency, cooperation and integrity.
The National Academy Program has been in operation since 1935. Graduates often return to their agencies to serve in executive-level positions.