Following the “Yellow Brick Road” is not just for Dorothy and Toto anymore. Just ask Lt. Michael Beutner with the Denton Police Department.
Beutner recently earned not only a yellow brick but also a blue brick during his graduation from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy on a Marine base in Quantico, Va.
Anyone who has attended the academy, open to officers in all 50 states and more than 150 international partner nations, knows about the final and optional fitness challenge.
The “Yellow Brick Road” consists of a 6.1-mile run through a trail built by the Marines. Beutner said it included climbing walls and crawling under barbed wire in muddy water. If students complete the challenge, they receive a yellow brick to memorialize their achievement.
“The Marine Corps were excellent hosts,” Beutner said.
While not all officers from the 10-week-long academy bring home a yellow brick, possibly fewer bring home a blue brick.
“I earned this [pointing to his blue brick] because I met the swim requirements — 34 miles in 10 weeks — and about 30 in my class of roughly 250 did the same,” Beutner said happily back at his desk.
“I must say, I am a cyclist, swimmer and runner, so I might not have had it as hard as some of the others,” he said with a chuckle.
While getting a chance to attend the academy is “an experience of a lifetime,” the wait can be somewhat long. Beutner said former Denton Police Chief Paul Abbott put his request into the Dallas FBI headquarters for approval. Abbott was interim chief before Police Chief Lee Howell was hired more than a year ago.
“While known for its academics, the best part really is all the people you meet and the networking you do,” Beutner said. “There are just so many amazing people you meet. You really haven’t lived until you travel and meet people from other areas — I met people as far out as Scotland and beyond.”
Beutner has worked his way up through the Denton Police Department for 26 years. After attending the course from the end of September through December, he is now in charge of training.
“Besides the contacts, one of the main things I took away is an innovative physical training regime I can use for our personnel here at the department,” he said.
The academy, Beutner said, was “more personally challenging than professionally challenging.”
While Beutner did graduate from the academy with nine credit hours from the University of Virginia, he said it wasn’t all hitting the books.
“We had a couple of weekend trips and one was to New York City,” Beutner said. “While a very emotionally involved experience, we laid a wreath on the 9/11 site. … It’s something words cannot express.”
Beutner is married to his wife of nearly 27 years, Christine, and has three children, two in college and one at Strickland Middle School.
He is the eighth person in 10 years to graduate from the National Academy within the Denton Police Department. Past attendees include Abbott, Howell, retired Capt. Joanie Housewright, captains Leann Carter, Scott Fletcher and Roger White along with Lt. Watch Commander Lee Kramer.
“Every time I get to do something — be it the security of the U.S. Olympic Games or wherever else the job takes me — I always say I have hit the pinnacle of my career,” Beutner said.
“Going to the FBI Academy? Top that!!” he said with a grin from ear to ear. “I am very blessed.”
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .