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CPD offers international training in the Republic of Georgia
CPD Chief Stacey Cotton and Captain Philip Bradford teach classes on investigating domestic violence and active shooters in the Republic of Georgia. (Submitted | The Covington News)

REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA, COVINGTON, Ga. - Members of the Covington Police Department (CPD) utilized their vacation days to travel abroad. The international trip was more than an exotic vacation, however.

CPD Chief Stacey Cotton and Captain Philip Bradford recently returned from the Republic of Georgia on a trip to train officers with the Georgian police force.

Cotton said he has been invited multiple times to do international travel with law enforcement. He has been to Israel, London and Turkey.

“We went there in 2015 to learn how their police work and how they’ve reformatted their police,” he said. “The U.S. State Department there puts that program on. The U.S. and the Republic have a thing ‘Georgia to Georgia’ where the State of Georgia has gone over there to help them in things like agriculture, business and law and all that kind of stuff, so law enforcement is one of them.”

Cotton said the 2015 trip was an informative trip and since then he has been back four times to teach skills such as investigating domestic violence and active shooter training.  He said the trip is funded by a grant from the federal government.

“When the Republic of Georgia gained their independence in 1993 from the Soviet Union, the political engine was still very much Russian-type with, you know, a lot of corruption, the law enforcement was very much corrupt because it was the same people they just changed the name of the government,” he said. “In 2003, I believe it was, with the Rose Revolution they had, the president at that time basically fired all 30,000 police officers and started completely over, so their police department is very new and they work really hard with the United States to modernize their police.”

Cotton said the trip was inspiring.

“It’s really interesting in this part of my career to see police agencies that are policing roughly tactics that we were using 30 years ago,” he said. “It reminds me daily of what it used to be like. Not that we were in the ancient times, it’s just domestic violence, for example, the way we approach it today is totally different than how we approached it 30 years ago.

“I have a lot better understanding of how far we’ve come in just the area of domestic violence. We still have a long way to go, but were lightyears ahead of what we used to be.”

Cotton said his travels have shined a light on the problems CPD faces locally.

“We’ve realized, I’ve realized that a lot of the problems that we face here in Covington, Georgia are solvable,” he said. “There’s really nothing we can’t solve when we put our resources and attention to it, because in these other countries they’re dealing with such dire poverty or sexism or terrorism to a level we can’t even grasp.”