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Welch: CPD kicks off Citizen’s Academy
Darryl Welch

COVINGTON, Ga. – The Covington Police Department kicked off its eighth Citizens Police Academy Tuesday night at police headquarters.

Retired Assistant Chief Almond Turner welcomed the 21 students who will spend the next five weeks learning what cops do, how they do it and why they do it.

Chief Turner told us we would “get a first-hand, close up look at the Covington Police Department.”

Our first night was spent getting to know each other and a little about the CPD. Our class is as diverse as our reasons for being there. We have retirees, college students from Georgia State University and one elected official.

Chief Stacey Cotton told us about his department. We learned CPD has 71 employees with 59 sworn personnel. It uses four shifts working 12 hours to answer an average of 38,000 calls annually. We learned about other contributions CPD makes to the through its annual Covington Fuzz Run and Police Who Care.

And we got a tour of CPD headquarters and were given a brief glimpse of what the next five weeks hold in store.

A year ago, while reporting from the Porterdale Police Department citizens academy, I wrote, “Many times, we in the media tend to over-critique and criticize these folks. Granted, those criticisms are sometimes warranted. Often, however, rushing to judgement can do more harm than good. Maybe if we knew a little more about what they do…”

I’ve learned a lot about policing in Newton County in the last year. I’ve had the opportunity to write about what cops face here, whether it’s a body burning in some woods on a Saturday morning or a baby found in some woods on a Sunday afternoon.

And I’ve had the chance to write about substantial drug busts and arrests made by officers and deputies after seemingly routine traffic stops in the middle of the night when it would have been just as easy to ignore a broken taillight.

But I’ve also had the opportunity to chronicle other contributions made by local cops that don’t show up in arrest totals.

I got to cover Covington PD’s Shop with a Cop at Christmas. I think I called it “God’s Work.” I got to ride along with the Porterdale PD as they made a caravan of care through the city giving out Thanksgiving meals to needy families.

Chief Cotton told us Tuesday a police department is only as effective as the community allows it to be. He also said we should look past the uniform and equipment and look and listen to the person wearing the uniform and equipment.

Hopefully, I can share some of what I learn the next five weeks and we can all have a little better understanding of those who serve and protect us.

Up next: I think I’m going to get face a Taser. Stay tuned.