The Yale Police Department and the FBI are gearing up for the fourth annual Future Law Enforcement Youth Academy, which will be held in July on Yale’s campus. FLEYA is an overnight camp that gives selected students classroom training, practical exercises in law enforcement and a look into today’s FBI — all under the guidance of sworn law enforcement and FBI employees.

“The purpose of the program is to help shape the future of law enforcement through exposure to various forms of legal careers and law enforcement, while teaching tolerance and diversity to youth interested in the careers they learn about during the program,” FBI New Haven Community Outreach Specialist Charles Grady told the News. 

The FLEYA program instructors include Yale Police Department officers, FBI employees and FBI National Academy alumni. According to the New Haven FBI website, alumni officers are assigned to students from the same county in order to promote ongoing communication between the two groups after the program’s completion.

A total of 26 students — 13 boys and 13 girls — are selected from urban and suburban high schools around the state to stay in New Haven for two weeks. Roughly 200 students apply for the program each year, according to Grady. The applicants must be “committed to physical fitness,” maintain a relatively high GPA and participate in both an initial telephone interview and a face-to-face panel interview in the Elm City.

“Students whose paths may not have ever crossed come together, and within one week, friendships built on mutual respect, understanding, curiosity towards policing, problem solving and investigative techniques [are] solidified. FLEYA is an authentic program,” Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins told the News. 

Accepted students attend the camp free of charge and are housed in dorms on Yale’s campus. Grady told the News that the program, which started in 2015, has been replicated in various municipalities around the country including in Milwaukie and Portland.

According to Grady, students learn about investigative forensics, counterintelligence, cybertechnology and violations of state and federal law. Additionally, the students participate in physical training every morning at 5 a.m. and play sports with law enforcement personnel — and even former NBA players, according to Grady.

For example, in 2016, students faced officers and agents in a three-on-three basketball tournament. That same year, Henry Lee, the former Chief Criminalist for the State of Connecticut, gave a speech at the program, according to a Yale press release.

Grady added that FLEYA seeks out well-balanced students that show promise of being a leader and have shown an interest in helping their communities and others in need.

According to Yale Police Assistant Chief Steven Woznyk, the program culminates with a series of group presentations and a formal graduation ceremony. Woznyk stressed that law enforcement officers from around the state, who serve as counselors, foster long-term partnerships with attendees.

Two current Yale students graduated from the law enforcement program — including one who is currently on the football team, according to Grady. Higgins told the News that a graduate of last year’s program recently contacted him because she wanted to connect with the Police Chief in her town to begin a police cadet program.

The Future Law Enforcement Youth Academy program will run from July 14 to July 20 this summer.

Sammy Westfall |