Assistant Chief Brian Thomas of the Western Carolina University Police Department was one of five North Carolina law enforcement officers to graduate from the FBI National Academy on March 13, during a ceremony held in Quantico, Virginia.

As an FBI National Academy graduate, Thomas enters into a select group made up of less than 1 percent of the country’s law enforcement officers.

They were handpicked by their departments and, along with other officers from across the country, completed the 10-week course at the FBI training facility in Quantico. The course included instruction in law, behavioral science, forensic science, understanding terrorism/terrorist mindsets, leadership development, communication and health/fitness.

The final test of the fitness challenge, the “Yellow Brick Road” is a grueling 6.1-mile run through a hilly, wooded trail built by the Marines. Along the way, the participants must climb over walls, run through creeks, jump through simulated windows, scale rock faces with ropes, crawl under barbed wire in muddy water, maneuver across a cargo net, and more. When (and if) the students complete this the course, they receive an actual yellow brick to memorialize their achievement. Thomas earned his yellow brick.