By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News
A reminder of one of his most satisfying accomplishments adorns the office of Isle of Palms Police Chief Kevin Cornett – a bright yellow brick that signifies his completion of a grueling, 6.1-mile obstacle course shortly before he graduated from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia in 2017. Now, one of his top officers will have the same opportunity to hone his leadership skills, take a wide range of graduate and undergraduate courses and develop relationships in the law enforcement community worldwide that will last a lifetime – and to tackle “The Yellow Brick Road” and earn a brick of his own. Capt. Jeff Swain, who has been with the IOP Police Department for almost 13 years, will leave for Virginia in January 2023 to begin work on an intense 10-week course that probably will change the way he looks at his professional duties and enhance his standing in the law enforcement community. “I’ve been looking at it for several years now,” Swain commented. “As a law enforcement officer, everyone knows this is the pinnacle. You’d be a fool not to be interested. Nowhere in the world is there this kind of training.” Swain, now 50 years old, grew up on Sullivan’s Island, graduated from the University of South Carolina and was a deputy in the Richland County Sheriff’s Department before serving for eight-and a-half years as a police officer in New York City. He returned to the Palmetto State and the IOP Police Department in 2010. Cornett remembers his stint at the FBI National Academy, which was established in 1935, as a turning point in his professional life. He pointed out that every Wednesday, members of his class listened to presentations on leadership, one of them from the negotiator during the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama, an incident recounted in the 2013 Tom Hanks movie “Captain Phillips.” Cornett said the most important aspect of graduating from The FBI National Academy is the contacts you make there and maintain throughout your law enforcement career. He noted that he talks with or emails with many of his 300 classmates every week about a wide variety of law enforcement related issues.
And, he said, his Academy roommate also applied for the job of IOP Police Chief, and they both used the other as a reference. Cornett pointed out that Swain’s stint at the Academy will be “100% free” for IOP because the course is paid for by the FBI. As far as he knows, Swain is the first IOP police officer to attend the Academy – Cornett completed the course when he was the police chief in Springdale – but he hopes others will follow in Swain’s footsteps. “My job is to see that everyone gets the best training they can get,” Cornett remarked.
“I’m really looking forward to it. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Swain concluded.