Keeping it in the family
- Ellen Spitaleri
- Clackamas Review - News
For three generations of the Kirby family, the FBI is in their blood.
At age 16, Danielle Kirby is the youngest member of the family to attend the FBI Academy, located on a Marine Base in Quantico, Va. The Oregon City High School student just returned from a nine-day course as part of the FBI's Youth Leadership Program.
She found out about the program because her father, David Kirby, currently one of two Clackamas County undersheriffs, is an alumnus of the FBI Academy. He attended an 'immersive' 10-week course there in 2007, where he learned about 'political systems and narcotics management,' among other things.
And finally, David Kirby's father, Bill Kirby, attended the academy as an FBI special agent in the 1950s; he just recently retired after 20 years as the Wallowa County district attorney.
For three generations to have had the FBI academy experience is 'pretty rare, at least in this area; and what is unique about it, is that we each did it differently,' David Kirby said.
He added, 'Fewer than one percent [of the law enforcement community] has the ability to go to the academy. We had people from all over the world, and the most valuable thing I learned is that it doesn't matter where you come from, we are all dealing with the same problems.'
As undersheriff, Kirby oversees the Clackamas County jail, community corrections and security at the county courthouse. He has been in law enforcement for 20 years, starting out in the Oregon State Police and moving into the Washington County Sheriff's Office in 1993.
In 2007, Sheriff Craig Roberts 'was kind enough to select me as undersheriff,' Kirby said.
The best part of his job is the people he works with, he said, and, not too surprisingly, the biggest challenge is trying to do as much as possible with a reduced budget.
For anyone considering a career in law enforcement, Kirby suggests they study the field and try to get as much experience as possible by joining a cadet program, touring facilities and going on ride-alongs.
He added, 'My mother didn't like me being in law enforcement because she thought it was too dangerous. But she came with me on a ride-along and saw me interacting with people in the community, and she felt better about it.'
Youth Leadership Program
Danielle was one of only two young people chosen to represent Oregon at the academy; there were 60 students, 40 girls and 20 boys, who came from all over the United States and five other countries.
The humidity and the three-hour time difference were the hardest things for her to deal with, especially since the attendees got up at 5 a.m. and ran six miles before doing sit-ups and pull-ups.
Students were in class eight hours a day, learning about such diverse subjects as juvenile violence, ethics and decision-making, constitutional law and time management.
'The leadership classes were my favorites,' she said, noting that the tour of Washington, D.C., including a visit to the Pentagon, was the highlight of the entire experience.
Being chosen to give the closing speech at graduation from the academy was something she will never forget, she added.
And one thing she and her father will always cherish from the academy is a yellow brick that both earned from completing an obstacle course set up by the Marines on the base.
'The FBI participants are guests on the Marine Corps base, and only certain people get to go on the obstacle course - it's a big honor,' David Kirby noted.
At Oregon City High School, Danielle is no stranger to honors or leadership experience. The junior-to-be plays three sports, varsity soccer and lacrosse, and JV basketball, and she has been on the honor roll during her whole high school career. She just represented Oregon at a national lacrosse tournament in New York and was named to the second team, all-league in that sport last school year.
She has ambitious plans to play lacrosse in college, earn an undergraduate degree in psychology, fit in 10 years of law enforcement training and ultimately become a behavior analyst - probably working with abused children.
She considers her FBI Academy experience to be life-changing, she said, adding, 'I have a new outlook on life - I realize there is more to life than Oregon City and sports. I am more aware of other people, more accountable, more goal-oriented. Nothing's impossible.'