DeKalb Technical College announced Tuesday it was chosen to participate in a pilot program to train law enforcement while granting college credit, set to begin January 2009, that would turn the Covington campus into a regional law enforcement training center for the metro-Atlanta area.
The Law Enforcement Academies Pilot Project is a collaboration between the technical college system of Georgia (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.
"We at DeKalb Technical College are extremely proud to have been selected," said Dr. Robin Hoffman, president of DeKalb Technical College.
Instructor Beverly Thomas echoed those sentiments.
"The Academy staff and I here at the college are extremely excited about this new initiative and the beginning of a new era in law enforcement training," she said. "As a law enforcement officer myself, I take this commitment and the responsibility of the academy very seriously."
She added that the local law enforcement agencies were an "indispensable" part of the process and were invaluable in the planning and development of the program.
Six technical colleges out of 33 in the state were chosen to participate in the pilot: Augusta Tech, Coosa Valley Tech, DeKalb Tech, Ogeechee Tech, Savannah Tech and South Georgia Tech.
"This pilot project has the potential to transform Georgia's basic law enforcement training system to a new era," Mann said. "In doing so, we're setting higher standards and parameters for better-trained law enforcement officers and safer communities throughout the state."
Under the Basic Law Enforcement Academies Pilot Project, trainees will receive a technical certificate of credit after completion of the program. With the certificate in hand, the new officers can continue their education toward a degree in criminal justice.
All students will be required to undergo a thorough background check, adhere to state POST Council rules and 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.
As students enrolled in college credit courses, most trainees will be eligible to receive Georgia HOPE grants and federal Pell grants to help offset the cost of their technical college education.
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.