Campus police captain completes intensive FBI academy
Being outnumbered isn’t exactly new to Marisa Smith.
One of only two women in her St. Louis County Police Academy graduating class years ago, the University of Missouri–St. Louis staff member became the university’s first female minority police captain in 2016 when colleagues surprised her with the promotion.
Now she’s just back from being one of 19 women from around the country and the world to spend 10 weeks at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“I was pleased, honored and humbled to represent not just UMSL but Missouri,” she said of the experience.
Smith was one of two officers from the Show-Me State who were part of the recent FBI National Academy, which trains both U.S. and international law enforcement managers in intelligence theory, management science, law, behavioral science, communication and more.
“Less than 1 percent of all law enforcement executives from across the country are selected to participate, and from that 1 percent less than 10 percent are women,” UMSL Police Chief Forrest Van Ness said. “Of all the 750,000 commissioned men and women in law enforcement across the country, FBI Director James Comey selected 226 law enforcement members – including our own Marisa Smith.”
Earning 17 credits from the University of Virginia during her stay in Quantico from early January through mid-March, Smith enrolled in academy courses focused on effective leadership, stress management, effective writing, compliance law and public speaking.
Each day also involved physical training, and it proved an intense but incredibly worthwhile schedule.
“It was great to discuss various issues and talk about how you handle it,” Smith said, “and I liked the idea of working with others to get from the present to the desired future.”
She also enjoyed living in a campus suite with three other women from places scattered around the U.S. and the globe – even as she missed her family and colleagues back home.
“It gave me an opportunity to bond with other women who were there,” she said.
The support from her spouse, three kids and especially Van Ness proved key – and the whole experience has further confirmed her choice of a career path as she continues to serve the UMSL community.
“The chief is very eager to invest in our future, and he has done nothing but mentor us and lead us in the right direction,” Smith said.
When she returned to campus a few weeks ago, Van Ness joined Chancellor Tom George and other campus leaders to formally commend Smith on this latest milestone.
“I felt a real sense of pride and honor and accomplishment,” Smith said.
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