By Jessica Tuggle
VERO BEACH -- A Vero Beach police officer proved his mettle recently in an advanced training course offered by the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
Lieutenant Matthew Monaco, a 15-year veteran of the Vero Beach Police Department, recently graduated from the FBI National Academy program in Quantico, Va., and took home some honors not yet achieved by any active member of the police department.
The 10-week program offers advanced investigative, management and fitness training for officers, many of whom will return to their home agencies to serve in executive-level positions.
Furthering his training with advanced courses at a prestigious law enforcement school has been a goal of the lieutenant for quite some time.
"They say that less than 1 percent of officers ever get to go to this kind of advanced training. The chief recommended me and I was thrilled and felt very blessed to be able to go," Lieutenant Monaco said.
While at the academy, Lieutenant Monaco received the yellow and blue brick awards and the 300-mile team challenge award.
The yellow brick award represents successful completion of a weekly physical challenge, which culminates with a 6.2 mile run through a U.S. Marine Corps obstacle course.
The blue brick award was for completion of a 34-mile swim challenge program and the 300-mile team challenge award is given to a five-member team that completes a 300-mile swim over the course of the 10-week program.
"Being away for 10 weeks was probably the most difficult part because I have a family and it was very difficult to be away from my two small children and wife. I couldn't have done it without the support of my wife and family," Lieutenant Monaco said.
Lieutenant Monaco is the only active member of the Vero Beach Police Department to have received the blue brick and the team challenge awards, said Vero Beach Police Chief David Curry.
"Matt has always kept himself in shape, and now he's in even better shape," Chief Curry said.
At the police department, Lieutenant Monaco oversees patrols, leads a critical response team and supervises physical assessments when needed.
"For our organization, he's a team player, a very loyal person and a true asset to the agency, no question," Chief Curry said.
Since coming to the department, Lieutenant Monaco completed a master's degree program in addition to furthering his law enforcement education, the chief said.
His personal emphasis on education and training also fits well with Chief Curry's philosophy on education.
"Education teaches you about decision making and thought processes. The more education you have the better decision-maker you become. And advanced training courses, like at the FBI Academy, can help prepare officers to move up the ranks," Chief Curry said.
Chief Curry said having high achieving and well educated staff and administrative level officers in the department like Lieutenant Monaco was a true asset to the department.
"It's a win-win because we get good, solid training for our people, our organization, and it can help them in the long term," Chief Curry said.