After a long and winding journey, his time finally came to participate in one of the best law enforcement academies in the country.
Churchill County High School sophomore Michael Richards II spent nine days in Quantico, Va., representing Nevada at the FBI National Academy Associates Youth Leadership Program.
Richards beat out 34 other students in the Silver State last year, but due to sequestration, could not participate in the academy until June. The competitiveness of the program is rigid, as only one student from each state and 10 countries/U.S. territories are accepted into the program.
“I thought it was fun,” Richards II said. “I got to go over there and meet new people. My roommate is from Minnesota and I still keep in contact with him.”
Richards’ decided to apply after a fatherly push from his dad, Justice of the Peace Mike Richards. The elder Richards completed the FBI Academy in 2005 as a member of the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office.
Mike Richards said the adult program runs four months and accepts two law enforcement agents from each state. Fallon and Churchill County, however, have been well represented at the FBI Academy in the past as Fallon Police Chief Kevin Gehman and former sheriff Rich Ingram each graduated. Current FPD Capt. Ron Wenger is now enrolled in the program.
For Mike Richards, however, he used the opportunity to travel east and visit family.
“It was a great little reunion,” he said. “It was great just to be back.”
Michael Richards II spent nine days on campus in Virginia taking classes from subjects such as firearms responsibility to leadership. The students also fired handguns on the FBI’s shooting range.
“It was pretty easy for me because I’ve been around guns and I’ve shot trap and skeet,” Richards II said. “A lot of the kids from New York or the big cities they haven’t done any of that.”
In addition, the youths were shuttled to Washington, D.C. for a day of sightseeing and visiting several of the country’s most prized attractions and memorials such as the Washington Monument, U.S. Capitol, the World War II and Vietnam memorials and Arlington National Cemetery.
“We got on buses and was one of the days where we didn’t have PT in the morning,” Richards II said. “We got to go to the top of Washington Monument. That was pretty cool.”
The students are split into small groups lead by counselors, who are active members of local and state law enforcement agencies from around the country. The counselors, Richards II said, use vacation time to spend with the youths teaching them about issues such as bullying, cyber-bullying, finance, constitutional law and public speaking to name a few.
Richards said each day began at 5:30 a.m. with physical training before breakfast at 7 a.m. From there, the students spent four hours in two classes, ate lunch and returned for another four hours in two more classes. They finished their day with dinner, book groups and free time before sacking out at 9:30 p.m.
The classes, meanwhile, were interactive on the various subjects. For Richards II, he found the cyber-bullying class the most compelling.
“I thought it was one of the most interesting classes,” he added. “It related to us. On social media, it seems no one is protected. Once you post something you can’t get it off there. They even talked about people killing themselves.”
The application process, meanwhile, involves an oral interview with the National Academy Associates and a thorough review of each applicant. Students must be between 14-16 and have a former graduate sponsor their application.
Richards II said one of this year’s students was 17, but an exception was made because of the sequestration.
Nevertheless, admission into the program stresses community service work, which Richards II has plenty. His philanthropy includes stints at Parkside Fellowship, Daily Bread, Out of Egypt and the Churchill Arts Council in addition to playing basketball and golf for the Greenwave.
He is also an honors student at CCHS and since his experience at the FBI program, he is considering following his father’s footsteps into law enforcement.
“My dad said I should apply if I was interested,” Richards II said. “It seemed like it would be a good idea, but after going there it made me want to do it more and work for the FBI or something like that.”