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TCSG announces basic law enforcement pilot project
Collaboration will allow law enforcement trainees to continue to their college degree
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    New law enforcement officers will now be able to attend Ogeechee Technical College  for basic training, and get college credits as well.
     The Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) Commissioner Ron Jackson announced a pilot project that will allow new law enforcement officers to receive their basic law enforcement training at a state technical college and obtain college credit at the same time.
    The project is a collaboration between the TCSG, the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC), headed by Director Dale Mann, and the state Peace Officers Standards and Training Council (POST), led by Executive Director Ken Vance.  
    The pilot program also has the endorsement of the state Board of Public Safety, which has been working steadily over the past year to craft a long-range solution to the need for more space for training of the state’s law enforcement officers.
    Under the Basic Law Enforcement Academies Pilot Project, trainees will receive a technical certificate of credit (TCC) after completion of the program.  With the TCC in hand, the new law enforcement officers can choose to continue their education toward a degree in criminal justice.
    Six technical colleges will participate in the pilot that is set to begin in January 2009: Ogeechee Tech, Augusta Tech, Coosa Valley Tech, DeKalb Tech,  Savannah Tech and South Georgia Tech.  
    Expansion of the program to more of the state technical colleges is possible as the program is evaluated for its level of success.  There are 33 colleges in the Technical College System of Georgia.
    "This is a win-win-win proposition for the technical colleges, law enforcement and, most of all, the safety of our citizens,"  Jackson said.  "This new plan opens the door for every trainee to utilize their basic training as part of a seamless education process toward a two-year degree in criminal justice."
    Most trainees, as a student enrolled in college credit courses, will be eligible to receive Georgia HOPE grants and federal Pell grants that will offset the cost of their technical college education.
    "We could not be more excited about this great news," said OTC President Dawn Cartee. "Many people have worked very hard to earn the opportunity to have a regional law enforcement academy at Ogeechee Tech, and we are extremely pleased that the work has paid off.
    "I would be remiss if I did not recognize Mr. Ellis Wood, member of the Georgia Board of Public Safety, Statesboro Police Chief Stan York, (Bulloch County) Sheriff Lynn Anderson, and (Statesboro-Bulloch )Chamber of Commerce President Peggy Chapman, as well as officials in Evans and Screven Counties, for their hard work in securing this academy."
    "This is something that all the local law enforcement people have talked about for several years," said Statesboro Police Chief Stan York.  "There is certainly a need, and we are happy to hear this news and will support the program in any way possible."
      Bulloch County Sheriff, Lynn Anderson echoed York’s sentiments. "We are very happy to hear about the academy being located at Ogeechee Tech.  We have wanted this for a long time, and it is good to see it finally happen."
 Public safety, law enforcement training
    With the addition of the regional law enforcement academy to the existing forensic science and criminal justice programs at Ogeechee Tech, as well as the Emergency Medical Technician, Paramedic, and new Fire Science programs, Ogeechee Tech will become a premier location for public safety and emergency service training in our region, Cartee said.
    "Our capacity to provide this type training will mean that local agencies will no longer be forced to send their personnel to Forsyth or some other distant location for training and certification.  This should be more convenient and more cost effective, and should result in a savings to local city and county government," she said.
    In order to create the program, the development team of TCSG, GPSTC, POST and  regional law enforcement academy personnel completed a comparison of curriculum  between existing TCSG criminal justice courses and POST Basic Mandate Training.  The result showed that a large segment of the basic training content was already being offered in the technical colleges’ criminal justice programs.  
    In order to fulfill all of the remaining requirements of the state’s Basic Mandate Training, like firearms and driving, the team will incorporate eight additional components into the technical college program over the next six months.  Admission standards will require all students to undergo a thorough background check and adhere to all rules as set forth by the state POST Council.  Students will also have to meet minimum scores in English, reading and math.
    The program will take between 16 and 20 weeks to complete.  All of the technical college teachers involved in the program will be POST-certified instructors.
    "It makes sense to pursue a model like we already have for EMTs, who get their training at a state technical college then come back with their credentials in hand and ready to go to work,"  Mann said.  "This pilot project has the potential to transform Georgia’s basic law enforcement training system to a new era.  In doing so, we’re setting higher standards and parameters for better-trained law enforcement officers and safer communities throughout the state."
    Similar programs already exist in neighboring states like North Carolina and Florida, where 41 of that state’s criminal justice training sites are located in their community colleges and technical institutes.

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