Delving into coursework on violent offenders, gaining insight into new investigative techniques and completing grueling fitness challenges over the past several months have placed East Hampton Town Police Lieutenant Chris Hatch into an elite group: graduates of the FBI National Academy.
Lt. Hatch, the commander of the Montauk precinct, graduated from the 253rd session of the academy on June 14. He was the only East End representative in a class of 217 law enforcement officers hailing from 48 states and 25 countries.
The academy, a professional course of study held four times a year in Quantico, Virginia, seeks to improve the administration of justice and raise law enforcement standards, knowledge and cooperation worldwide.
“It’s a very elite school,” said East Hampton Town Police Chief Ed Ecker Jr., himself a graduate of the academy’s 169th session. “Only about 1 percent of all law enforcement officers in the country get into this school.”
For Lt. Hatch, 40, who started his police career with the town department in 1993—he observed his 20th anniversary as a cop this year—attending the FBI Academy became a goal when he began his ascent to the supervisory ranks.
“He certainly deserved it,” said Chief Ecker. “He is great with the public, he’s an exceptional planner, and he is becoming a very good police executive.”
Lt. Hatch earned 17 credits at the academy, where his session began on April 8. He would eventually like to transfer these credits toward a college degree, perhaps in police administration, he explained during a Monday afternoon interview at his office in the Montauk precinct. He attended the University of Delaware and Suffolk Community College, but left at age 20 to enroll in the Suffolk County Police Academy prior to graduation.
His courses at the academy included one on the behavior and trends of violent offenders—his favorite—drug enforcement strategies, leadership, ethics and decision making, and stress management in law enforcement, among others.
“It’s like the grad school of police administration,” Lt. Hatch, the commanding officer of the town’s Emergency Services Unit, as well as a local firefighter and rescue diver, explained.
Among the lessons he brought back home to East Hampton are a greater awareness of the resources the FBI has available to local police, and a more fine-tuned sense of how to better approach investigations, as well as valuable networking experiences.
In addition to the academics, the lieutenant also earned a golden brick, now proudly on display at his office at police headquarters in Wainscott. The brick is a testament to his completion of the “Yellow Brick Road,” a strenuous fitness challenge that is a hallmark of the academy.
The gold block adorns the office of a select few. This fitness test includes a more-than-six-mile run through a hilly, wooded Marine-built trail. Scaling rock walls, crawling under barbed wire in muddy water, and maneuvering across a cargo net are just some of the tricks required along the way. “It was great. It builds a lot of camaraderie, a lot of motivation and teamwork,” he said.
Fitness is a mandatory part of the academy, Lt. Hatch said, noting that the workouts are based on law enforcement needs: flexibility, quick strength and injury prevention.
Police, particularly when on the rotating schedules that demand shifts at all hours of the day, do not have much time to work out and stay in shape, he said. Therefore, short-duration, high-intensity workouts are key. Long-distance running is not emphasized because of the potential for injury, but short spurts of certain aerobic and strength activities are.
“Over a short period of time, you get the same effect as somebody who’s running a five-mile run,” he said.
But perhaps even more challenging than the exercise for Lt. Hatch was the time away from his wife, Lauren, and their two daughters, Leah, 11, and Camryn, 8. “Lauren definitely picked up the ball with everything when I was away. She was Mom and Dad and everything in between. She deserves credit for that,” he said. “One of the hardest things is getting used to being away. It’s one thing when you’re young, you’re not married and you don’t have kids yet, to leave your family for 10 weeks. That’s the first time I’d been away from them for that long.”
Lt. Hatch joins a select group of academy graduates in his department, including Chief Ecker, Captain Michael Sarlo, Detective Lieutenant Chris Anderson and Lieutenant Tom Grenci.