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Since the first of the month, Deputy Chief Tom Aftanas has been in Virginia for what will be a three month FBI training program. Highly regarded by law enforcement professionals, the program offers specialized training for its participants.

“This is a fantastic opportunity,” Mayor Anthony Calderone said. “Not every police department is afforded the opportunity to send one of their officers to the FBI Academy.”

Indeed, once every 10 years the academy selects nine officers from the state of Illinois to participate in its FBI training program. Participation is by invitation only. To be considered, an officer must provide a letter of recommendation from their chief of police, and undergo a rigorous screening process.

Located in Quantico, Va., the FBI Academy opened in 1972. Following graduation, each officer has the opportunity to join the FBI National Academy Associates, an organization of more than 15,000 law enforcement professionals who work to develop greater levels of competency, cooperation, and integrity across the law enforcement community, according to the academy’s website.

The training comes at no cost to the village, and all expenses are absorbed by the academy. All fees, transportation and meals are reimbursed by the federal government.

Aftanas will continue to receive a salary from the village. Chief Jim Ryan said that Aftanas is still actively working for the police department, and that he is taking classes to further his education.

For several years the department has lamented shortfalls in its staffing levels and a number of village council candidates said bolstering the department’s ranks is a priority. But both Calderone and Ryan stressed that Aftanas’ absence will not negatively affect the police department. Rather, they regaled at the opportunity, noting that Aftanas, the village, and the police department will benefit from the deputy chief’s FBI training.

“It is a hardship to lose a deputy chief, but the reward will pay dividends when he comes back,” Ryan said.

Ryan went on to say that everyone in the department is chipping in to pick up the extra slack during the course of Aftanas’ absence. And according to Calderone, the village hires part-time officers to fill in any staffing shortage within the police department.

“The reality is, no one is getting shorthanded,” Calderone said. “If anything, Aftanas will have a better education and work output, which everyone will benefit from.”

Due to the nature and intensity of the training program, Aftanas could not be reached for comment. During his stay in Virginia, Aftanas will take courses in law, behavioral and forensic science, communication and leadership development. He is expected to return on June 10.