Opinion

Deal lays out police training plan

A week ago today, NAACP chapters in communities across Georgia, including Columbus, held a “Day of Protest” in response to the officer-involved shootings in Charlotte and Tulsa.

Gov. Nathan Deal, like most state officials and, we would certainly hope, everybody else, does not want Georgia to be a headline word for such volatile incidents, the ominous publicity they attract and the tragedies they involve.

This week the governor unveiled some details of the plan he announced earlier to boost police pay while at the same time improving law enforcement training and certification procedures.

“While the responsibility to provide for the public’s safety has not changed over the course of time,” the governor said in a prepared statement, “the demands of fulfilling this fundamental obligation have changed and grown.”

That’s an understatement. First rate police work doesn’t require just enormous personal courage and, quite often, enormous self-control; it also demands, as Deal phrased it, “great skill, long suffering, and dedication of purpose.”

The pay raise is significant — 20 percent for more than 3,300 state-level officers. But with that raise comes a demand for more training in police-community relations, crisis recognition and management, and use of force.

The intensified training is to come in three “phases.” The first involves more continuing education courses in Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) requirements. The second is crisis intervention training, administered by the GBI, in which officers learn appropriate and effective resorkdponses to situations involving people with mental illness. The third involves the formation of a task force of officers, community leaders and public officials to review and assess current training standards.

State NAACP President Francys Johnson expressed suspicion that the plan is a “half measure,” but added that if the details of the plan prove to be more than just political, “we will work collaboratively with him and other stakeholders.”

Man of principle

Shimon Peres was, like many of Israel’s greatest leaders, both a warrior and a peacemaker.

The public career of Peres, who died Wednesday at 93, started before Israel’s founding as a nation, would seem him serve terms as both prime minister and president, and earn him both a Nobel Peace Prize and this country’s Presidential Medal of Freedom. Bill Clinton, the U.S. president who worked with him in earning the former — the result of a 1993 Mideast Peace Plan called the Oslo Accords — and President Barack Obama, who awarded him the latter, were scheduled to attend his funeral today.

Peres was famous for, among his many gifts of statecraft, memorable observations: He was, and will continue to be, one of the most quotable world leaders of the mass communications age. Perhaps this one is as fitting an epitaph as any:

“If you have children, you cannot feed them forever with flags for breakfast and cartridges for lunch. You need something more substantial.”

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