Teacher feature: David Grabelski

With 33 years of practical experience, David Grabelski now serves as director of the undergraduate program for Mercyhurst College’s Intelligence Studies Department.

Before joining the Mercyhurst community, he served as a detective of the Los Angeles Police Department in sexual assaults, homicide, and gang units, successively. He also served as a senior analyst and trainer with the U.S. Department of Justice/National Drug Intelligence Center.

Through these jobs, Grabelski learned the value of intelligence analysis, which is a relatively new concept in the law enforcement field.

Grabelski said he came to Mercyhurst for two reasons: He was tired of traveling, and the Mercyhurst Intelligence Studies Department had a good reputation even in its early years.

Both of Grabelski’s two children graduated from Mercyhurst, and his daughter majored in intelligence studies.

The intelligence studies program prepares its students for their future careers through two important aspects. First, students take a variety of history and language courses to become more aware of the global environment and its past. Also, all faculty are former practitioners, so they know what students can expect in the field.

Intelligence studies majors must develop a strong work ethic.

Although there are few standardized tests, the many projects based on real-world situations help prepare students for the intense atmosphere in their chosen careers.

Grabelski began teaching at Mercyhurst in the spring of 2005. He said that the intelligence studies program graduated 24 students that year. Last year, the program graduated 75 students.

“The program is strong and growing stronger,” he said.

“What’s most gratifying to me is to see an 18-year-old freshman want to work for the government,” Grabelski said, “and three years later come into my office to tell me they got their dream job in the intelligence arena.”

Grabelski shares the view expressed by Christa McAuliffe, the famed New Hampshire teacher who was killed in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

“I touch the future. I teach,” McAuliffe once said.

Grabelski said he is teaching students who will protect the country for the next 30 years.

“We’ve got good kids,” Grabelski said. “They will make a difference in the world.”

Grabelski earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Pennsylvania State University and his master’s degree in corrections from Pepperdine University. He specializes in law enforcement intelligence.

Outside of the classroom, Grabelski serves as a faculty advisor to the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts (IALEIA) and participates in campus events such as carving the Thanksgiving turkey. He enjoys fishing in his spare time.