UCF Police Maj. David Zambri this spring traded in sunshine, the comforts of home, and his job overseeing the department’s administrative services in exchange for cold weather, a dorm room and intensive professional development.

The tradeoff was worth it.

After 10 weeks in Quantico, Va., Zambri left the FBI National Academy with invaluable training and a new network of partners from around the world that he can call on for information and advice.

The FBI National Academy is professional development for law enforcement leaders that includes leadership-focused coursework and physical fitness challenges. Admission into the respected course is limited and prestigious, the law enforcement equivalent of what West Point is to the military.

The academy brings together officers from around the world to build community, share best practices and learn practical solutions that enhance community safety.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and one of the most enriching opportunities I’ve ever had,” Zambri said. “I walked away a more effective leader for the UCF Police Department.”

Zambri joined UCFPD as a patrol officer in 1993. He currently oversees administrative services, which includes budget, professional standards, training, accreditation, internal affairs, records and special events. He’s also a two-time UCF graduate who holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in public administration.

He said his time at the FBI National Academy was eye-opening and character-building. Zambri said the academy gave him a larger perspective of law enforcement, providing an opportunity to reflect and brainstorm on long-term issues and strategies.

Though Zambri’s peers came from faraway locations from Australia to the Middle East, many of the challenges they face as law enforcement professionals are the same.

“Not only do you learn from the best instructors in the world, but more importantly you’re with 250 of your peers from all across the world,” said UCF Police Chief Richard Beary, a 1985 National Academy graduate. “This training has given Maj. Zambri a broad base of new ideas that he can bring forward to serve the UCF community.”