Fort Bend County DA becomes a 'better lawyer' after training more than 700 hours in police academy

Nick Natario Image
Friday, May 10, 2024
Fort Bend County DA trained more than 700 hours in police academy
Fort Bend County District Attorney Brian Middleton becomes a police academy cadet, which requires more than 700 hours of intensive training.

RICHMOND, Texas (KTRK) -- During the day, Fort Bend County's top prosecutor is going after criminals in the courtroom. At night, he's learning what it takes to arrest them.

Becoming a cadet

At 51 years old, the drills can be demanding, and the classroom is challenging, too.

"I am the oldest," Brian Middleton explained. "I can keep up with them."

Being a police academy cadet requires more than 700 hours of intensive training. It's an education that's been one of the longest years of Middleton's life.

"My memory is not as strong as it used to be," Middleton said. "It's the standard, 'I would love to attend, but I'll be in class at that time.'"

There are community commitments Middleton is usually at because he's not a traditional cadet. You might recognize him in a suit and tie walking the hallways of Fort Bend County's judicial center.

Middleton has been the county's district attorney for over five years, but his bucket list included the academy.

I think that's made me a better thinker. I think that's made me a better lawyer.
Brian Middleton, Fort Bend County District Attorney

"I can tell you it's exhausting," Middleton explained. "It's a huge time commitment, but it's very, very satisfying."

It may be exhausting and time-consuming, but Middleton said it's paid off because what he's learned in the classroom has helped him in the courthouse.

"As lawyers, typically, most of what we do in our critical thinking is deductive. We have a concrete set of facts, accept the facts and then we accept the conclusion, legal conclusions based on that. Police officers do more of inductive reasoning. It's fast-paced, dynamic facts that are coming at them and they have to sort through facts and discern what's material and what's not material, look for patterns, and then reach a conclusion. It's been working a different muscle," Middleton explained. "I think that's made me a better thinker. I think that's made me a better lawyer."

How George Floyd impacted historic DA bid

Middleton hopes the experience helps him beyond the courthouse. Middleton ran for office to improve relations between law enforcement and the community, a relationship that was strained nearly four years ago when George Floyd was killed.

"I am from Houston, and the George Floyd situation resonated with me as an African American," Middleton said.

Fellow Houston native Floyd was killed after he was placed in a chokehold by an officer. The incident triggered protests across the country, including in Houston.

At the academy, Middleton's getting a hands-on lesson.

I have a better understanding, so, when I see a situation (and review) use of force cases, I know what they were going through.
Brian Middleton, Fort Bend County District Attorney

"I can identify what was probably necessary for their point to gain control, and I'll be able to identify what is excessive," Middleton explained.

Middleton said the knowledge has become invaluable since he started at Wharton County Junior College last summer.

Since then, he's been serving as district attorney during the day and a cadet at night.

He said the process will help him fight crime, from understanding police actions to knowing how tough the job is.

"Anyone who finishes the police academy has truly accomplished something," Middleton said. "It will probably be the second greatest achievement in my life."

Could a law enforcement career be in Middleton's future?

Middleton ran for district attorney in 2018 and won re-election in 2022.

He's scheduled to graduate from the police academy in June. We asked him if it could propel him into a law enforcement career.

"Right now, I'm content with being district attorney," Middleton said. "Certainly, if the opportunity presented itself, I very will likely entertain it."

Middleton said he encourages others to go through the academy. There are options, including the college courses he's taking.

The Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office offers an academy as well.

For updates on this story, follow Nick Natario on Facebook, X and Instagram.