Local agent shares his experience at the FBI National Academy

Claudia Buccio

Commander Gustavo Paiz from the Desert Hot Springs holds his yellow brick award with great pride. This past summer, Commander Paiz was one of the 228 law enforcement agents selected to participate in the FBI National Academy, a prestigious 10-week program in Quantico, Virginia.

“The FBI National Academy has been a dream of mine since I was an explorer at the Whittier Police Department,” Commander Paiz said. “It started when I would enter command staff offices, and I saw the yellow brick in many of the offices of those who ranked as lieutenant or above.”

Commander Paiz said he felt the calling to join the police department when he was a young boy.

“I wanted to be part of something and help the community where I live,” he said.

The FBI National Academy started in 1935 giving high-ranking law enforcement agents the opportunity to take classes to improve their leadership skills and learn about national security issues.Besides the academic coursework led by the University of Virginia, participants get a chance to complete the “Yellow Brick Road,” which is a 6.1 mile obstacle course. 

“Usually for Lieutenants or Commanders or above that demonstrate exceptional leadership skills in their departments,” Commander Paiz said.

Only 1% of all law enforcement in the U.S. get to experience the FBI National Academy. For many agents, it can take years to get nominated and accepted into the program.

“It was humbling to know that it took me a year and a half to get my hands on that yellow brick,” he said.

Commander Paiz came back 8 weeks ago, and as he looks back to his accomplishments, he said it was hard leaving his family to follow his longtime dream.

“Both of my daughters were so proud and also wanted to hold the yellow brick in their hands because they know how much it meant to be,” Commander Paiz said.

He attributes his successful 17 year career with the Desert Hot Springs Police Department to the endless love and support from his family.

“I love them, and I appreciate everything they’ve done for me to achieve my dreams…

Graduates of the FBI National Academy must commit to serve as a law enforcement agent for three years after completing the program.

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