In the wake of police-related shootings across the country, Gov. Nathan Deal laid out a plan to overhaul officer training and certification courses for police throughout the state of Georgia.
The plan also includes a 20 percent pay raise for more than 3,300 state law enforcement officers, according to a news release on the governor’s website. The pay increase is effective Jan. 1, 2017, and represents more than $78 million in state funding.
“While the responsibility to provide for the public’s safety has not changed over the course of time, the demands of fulfilling this fundamental obligation have changed and grown,” Deal said in the release. “We ask our law enforcement personnel of all levels and ranks to do a very difficult job, one that requires great skill, long suffering, and dedication of purpose.
“It is incumbent upon the government to recruit and retain the best and brightest while equipping them with the training and resources they require,” he said. “To that end, I’ve crafted a law enforcement proposal consisting of two major components: more pay for our state officers who risk their lives every day, and changes to how we train both state and local authorities who have the power to make arrests.”
On Sept. 23, the Georgia NAACP held a “Day of Protest” in Columbus and other cities to denounce recent police-related shootings in Charlotte, N.C., and Tulsa, Okla. In a news release announcing the protest, the organization expressed skepticism concerning Deal’s plan.
“It appears to be a half measure,” Georgia NAACP State President Francys Johnson said. “The details are still unclear. However, if Governor Deal is interested in doing more than political window-dressing, we will work collaboratively with him and other stakeholders.”
Here are the Governor’s plans for more officer training as outlined on his website:
Phase 1 — Increasing continuing education training and certification courses.
This phase includes expanding the list of specific training courses required by Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) as part of the continuing education requirements for sworn peace officers. It includes training on use of force, the concepts of effective policing and the importance of building positive community relations.
Phase 2 — Streamlining and expansion of Crisis Intervention Training.
CIT is a nationally standardized program designed to equip officers with the knowledge and skill to approach crises involving individuals with mental illness. It is currently administered by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which has trained about 9,500 state and local law enforcement officers. This phase also involves the transfer of CIT to the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC), streamlining training requirements and increasing access for more than 57,000 state and local officers.
Phase 3 — Creation of a task force to review the current Basic Law Enforcement Officer Training Course.
The task force will be comprised of law enforcement officers, community leaders and elected officials charged with reviewing current law enforcement training standards and providing recommendations for improvement.