After 25 years with the FBI and stints with the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps and Federal Air Marshal Service, Bob Fiatal is focusing on providing Ohio officers with the best available training — free and close to home. He serves as executive director of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy and Commission.
On the growth in regional trainings
With the economic downturn, there was a decrease in training budgets for all law enforcement in our state. With that, we changed our business model. Rather than expecting everyone to come to our Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy campuses in Richfield and London, we took training on the road, so officers can get there with less travel, overtime, lodging, and per diem costs and also take advantage of free or very low tuition.
On OPOTA’s new Mobile Academy offerings
We must address the skills that are most crucial to peace officers’ well-being and the protection of citizens — things like driving and use of force, particularly deadly force and subject control. So with the dedication of funding by the Attorney General, we’re applying additional resources and personnel to take firearms, driving, and subject control training to the regions. Currently, the best way to do that is with high-tech equipment such as simulators that replicate those high-risk situations.
On opportunities for local agencies
Some large law enforcement agencies in our state have simulators, but most do not, nor do they have access to
access to them. We’re going to take this equipment, along with instructors, right to the doors of our local law enforcement agencies. I expect our biggest problem will be satisfying the demand in the first year of offering this service. But it’s something we’re committed to doing because it’s a great way to train officers. The subject control piece will be brought to the field as well, but that will be easier because it just involves transporting mat equipment to help ensure officers don’t get hurt when they go through the techniques and moves. And not only will we have the top equipment, we have top instructors as well.
On ensuring that all OPOTA courses are fresh and relevant
We listen to our customers. We talk to heads of agencies and officers who are out there on the street about what’s needed and how we should refresh our trainings. We do the vast majority of our training through contract instructors, who convey the issues they’re seeing in the field as practitioners. We also require our staff instructors to stay abreast of the most current law enforcement issues and teaching techniques. You can’t put a price tag on this work because it’s about saving lives and helping law enforcement do a better job.
On the daily focus of OPOTA staff members
Our mission here is not something we have at the front door of our academy or on all our stationery or forms, but it’s something that we live and practice and discuss every day. And that is providing the best training and the best service to law enforcement at the best cost. And if we can do that free, that’s the best. That’s our mantra here. We have a very innovative Attorney General who is truly concerned about training law enforcement. He demands the best, and we have a commitment to deliver the best.
The Bob Fiatal File
Past positions: Several roles with the FBI, including special agent focusing on organized crime, head of a Cleveland drug task force, and academy instructor; prosecutor in U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps; Federal Air Marshal Service supervisor; and Bureau of Criminal Investigation superintendent.
Family: Wife Linda, three children, and seven grandchildren
For fun: Hanging with family, exercising, and working the New York Times crossword puzzle.
Best quote: “I’m not going to take credit for anything here at the academy or commission because you’re only as good as your crew. I’ve got a great crew, the best one I’ve ever had — and you can see I’ve been around.”