AUGUSTA, Georgia (WJBF) – Georgians have the opportunity to take free law enforcement and criminal justice training. It’s part of a budget proposal by Gov. Brian Kemp that would help more men and women serve and protect by incorporating the technical college system.
“The governor is letting law enforcement officers and deputies know that they are appreciated,” Patrick Clayton, chief deputy of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, told NewsChannel 6.
Gov. Brian Kemp promises to hire the best in the state in his latest budget proposal. He announced plans to have Georgia’s technical college system add law enforcement and criminal justice degrees to high-demand career initiatives, providing free tuition to more than 1,000 Georgians in this field. . This plan would build on an already existing CSRA partnership between Augusta Technical College and agencies such as the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
“When you consider that 65% of millennials, one of their top needs in the workplace is personal development,” Chief Deputy Clayton said of several surveys.
He said you only need a high school diploma to join the ranks of the sheriff’s office. But he added that arming yourself with a degree before a badge can provide many benefits, such as a community that has more faith in public safety.
“More educated officers means fewer use of force incidents,” he said.
Augusta Tech already has the programs in place; a law enforcement academy and its criminal justice program that offers an associate degree. You can complete both in about a year. The academy actually lasts 18 months or 42 hours, according to Augusta Technical College President Jermaine Whirl, who spoke to NewsChannel 6 about the venture. The Criminal Justice program is 45 credit hours. But he adds that people can avoid the $100 per credit hour fee with the help of Governor Kemp’s plan.
“When you have people who have a college degree, they have more training on diversity, equity and inclusion. They have more conflict resolution training and a lot of them are attributes that we’ve heard police officers who didn’t have that education struggle with,” said President Whirl, adding that this is especially true with race relations.
Chief Deputy Clayton agrees, adding that an officer with a criminal justice background also knows more about behavioral sciences, psychology, criminology and how to deal with people in crisis. He mentioned other factors such as the salary and value of blue matter men and women, especially after America saw police shootings in the media.
President Whirl added that an education can help secure a higher salary. And the training will be provided by experts from the region.
He said, “All of our programs, by the way, are taught by former deputies and sergeants each with over 20 years of experience.”
Whirl said the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office already pays Augusta Tech tuition for its staff. Thus, the program announced by Governor Kemp would be an added advantage.
The academy started in January and will start again in June. College has already started, so May would be the next opportunity for the criminal justice program. Prospective students can apply at any time.
Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton said his office is also working to publicize a free college option through the Fraternal Order of Police. The FOP will pay for tuition, fees, and e-books toward a fully online associate’s or bachelor’s degree or certificate. He said the only payment would be the FOP membership fee. The offer is also extended to family members. For more information, go here. (fopfreecollege.org)
In addition to free law enforcement training, Whirl added that the HOPE Career Fellowship offers programs in a plethora of other high-demand careers such as practical nursing, care/ early childhood education, aviation, automotive and pharmaceutical technology. For more information on all programs, go here. (augustatech.edu)
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps