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Welch: Citizen’s Police Academy week 3: Shoot or don’t shoot
Darryl Welch

Week three of the Covington Police citizen’s academy meant a road trip to the Georgia Piedmont Technical College Law Enforcement Academy on Bob Williams Parkway.

The reason for the trip was to give the class a brief glimpse of what police officers and deputies go through when they are faced with a potentially deadly confrontation. We got hands on experience with the same firearms training simulator cops use to train for marksmanship and judgement.

I’ve had a lot of interesting experiences in my time at The Covington News. I’ve had a chance to cover stories that matter. I’ve gotten to meet and get to know the people in our community who work every day to make a difference.

But I haven’t had the opportunity to see what it looks like when a cop is faced with a situation that requires deadly force until now.

The first thing to know is that things happen fast really fast. A situation can go from zero to bad in the blink of an eye. I “shot” at a guy that I probably shouldn’t have. On the plus side, I might have just grazed him. On the minus side, I could have “killed” somebody I didn’t have to shoot. It’s a lot to think about.

We were in a controlled environment looking at the bad guys on video and I still got a little jelly legged. I think the experience gave the class a different perspective of what those who serve and protect us face on a daily basis.

Police officers are required to complete more than 400 training hours in order to become certified in Georgia. Most departments require more than that and additional training hours annually through out a cop’s career. That being said, as a layman, I don’t know how much training can prepare someone for the scenes I got to experience Tuesday night.

Added to the physical aspect of a shoot, don’t shoot scenario are all of the things cops have to think about in that situation.

Lt. Mike Tinsley explained that the legal ramifications – Federal laws, state laws and departmental policies are also in the mix. Add to that the media coverage and how the public might react. There’s a lot going on.

I understand that there are cops who shoot people they shouldn’t have. Sometimes bad things can happen with tragic consequences. But it’s best not to pass judgement until all of the facts are in. That’s something that we journalists as a profession and we as a society need to keep in mind.

Tuesday, we’re back at CPD headquarters for week 4 of the academy. It’s going way too fast. We’re going to learn how detectives conduct criminal investigations and put bad guys in jail. I’ll tell you all about it.

Darryl Welch is a staff writer for The Covington News. He can be reached at or 770-728-1438. See a video of him being tased at