Friday, June 5, 2020
Hello everybody and welcome back to FLETC. And when I say everybody, I mean all the members of our federal law enforcement training community; our students, and all of our staff, including the contractors who provide so many of the services on which our mission depends.
The COVID-19 pandemic cut us off from the FLETC that existed just a few months ago. COVID-19 is now part of our environment, and we have had to find ways to navigate around the worst of the dangers it presents. And we have done so.
We have just completed a bridge across a wide, fast moving, dangerous river, the river COVID-19. On one side of our newly constructed bridge are the classrooms, dining halls, firing ranges, roads, and offices we remember, and, on the outside at least, they seem just as we remembered them when we left on March 20.
On the other side of our bridge are the people that make up our federal law enforcement training community. We have had to bridge that gap between our facilities and our people.
The new processes and procedures we have adopted have bridged the danger area, and provide the means for the people of our training community to move to and from and within OUR facilities, the facilities in which we prepare federal law enforcement officers and agents to do their jobs. I think everybody understands our mission – Thousands and thousands of students need to complete their training and get ready to do their jobs in the field. And FLETC is the only institution on the planet ready and equipped to host the training that they need.
Everyone, all of us in the FLETC community have jobs to do – For weeks, participating organizations from DHS, DOJ, Department of Interior, the Department of State; and all the agencies that train at FLETC,
All these agencies have been organizing the return of their students, and staff: working schedules, arranging travel from hundreds of locations for thousands of travelers, and making countless other adjustments to make the restart of on-site training at FLETC possible.
The leadership of the FLETC community and that includes the leadership of all the agencies that participate in FLETC… All the agencies have found ways to get the job done.
Every work unit in FLETC has been heavily involved for the past 10 weeks, Designing the bridge from the FLETC of the past to the FLETC of the present, Designing all the pieces, the processes, and procedures, and getting the equipment, and all of the supplies we all depend on.
We have designed our bridge, built the bridge, and now, we have a way to safely move people to, from, and within the facilities where the mission gets accomplished.
As you look around our new FLETC environment, you will see some physical changes – plastic barriers at our service counters, directional arrows on the floors inside our buildings, temperature check kiosks at the dining halls. However, even with all that, the most important changes we have made are the changes in our processes and procedures; it is these changes that support our bridge, and hold it all together.
Our new processes, the changes that hold our bridge together, include pre-screening of students and staff, social distancing, temperature checks, and continuous monitoring of health, all of these things are essential elements of the bridgework we have built.
None of the changes we have made has been by accident. Every day, we have been consulting with DHS headquarters and their medical professionals.
We have been talking to our partners, to academic and military institutions, and we have been working with the private sector to help us reengineer our training processes and protocols.
Our combined efforts have made training at FLETC as safe as we can possibly make it. In addition, we are not done… as additional resources, methods, tools, and research become known, and we will apply them to our environment to reduce risks to our students and staff even further.
The safety of our students and staff has been, and will continue to be, our priority as we navigate our way through our new environment.
In addition, navigate we must….we have an important national security function to perform. Our students are about to deploy into a much more dangerous environment than exists within our fence-line, and they depend on our combined efforts to enable them to do so. FLETC’s newly reengineered training includes extraordinary measures to ensure arriving students do not introduce COVID-19 into our training environments or into the communities in which we operate.
We have implemented a screening process for all students and staff entering FLETC’s gates that includes asking questions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, and conducting no touch temperature checks.
When students arrive and clear our initial screening and temperature checks, we will isolate them for 14 days from the rest of FLETC before we send them into our classrooms, firing ranges, and other training venues. The students will have plenty of online and written training materials to review, administrative tasks to complete, and will have opportunities to exercise. Students will remain within FLETC facilities for the duration of their stay. All of our students and staff will follow social distancing, continuous monitoring, and hygiene protocols.
Now a word to the folks who have been building FLETC’s bridge form the past to the present. I appreciate, admire and applaud the results of the many teams and work groups who have developed innovative solutions to the thousands of challenges our new circumstances have presented. From the leadership to the trainers, to the professional staff and services teams, to all of those who have invested so many extra hours and sacrificed weekends into getting our facilities ready for us. I appreciate all that was done and continues to be done to mitigate our risks and resume training.
So welcome back students and staff, to the new FLETC at Artesia, Charleston, Cheltenham, and Glynco. To say we have worked our plans intensively would be an understatement.
Even so, we know, we will need to adjust those plans as we go, and we are ready to do so.
Over a hundred years ago, Theodore Roosevelt said, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing,” and that my friends, is where we are today.
More to come…