DeKalb Tech vying for law academy

COVINGTON - DeKalb Technical College could one day be home to a law enforcement academy that would provide mandated training for sheriff and police departments within a 50-mile radius of Newton County.

The school is in the running for a pilot project partnering law enforcement agencies and state technical colleges.

Training academies are in short supply, and local agencies rely on an overcrowded academy in Clayton County that often doesn't have openings, according to Judge Virgil Costley Jr., coordinator of the paralegal program at DeKalb Tech.

Costley asked for the county's backing of the project at the Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday night.

A training academy at DeKalb Tech would ensure local law enforcement receives mandated training, serving sheriffs and police departments in Newton and Rockdale counties, as well as law enforcement agencies from surrounding counties within about a 50-mile radius, Costley said.

An advisory committee consisting of chiefs, sheriffs and law enforcement officials has been working to bring an academy to Newton County, Costley said.

On Jan. 24, DeKalb Tech will be one of 11 technical colleges submitting plans for a local academy to the Department of Technical and Adult Education.

Six schools will be chosen as pilot sites, Costley said, adding that DeKalb Tech is the only school in the metro Atlanta area represented.

If selected, the academy would be housed at the school's facility at 8101 Bob Williams Parkway. The building currently has about 80,000 square feet of unoccupied space, and between 10,000 and 12,000 square feet would be needed for the academy, Costley said.

In addition to classroom space, a portion of the outdoor campus would be used for physical training and a driving course, Costley said.

The start-up costs could run up to $400,000, and it's not yet clear if the state will foot the bill, he said, adding local funds may be needed.

The academy could open as early as this summer, he said.

"The main thing is it's going to improve the function of law enforcement in this whole area. They will be able to train more efficiently. This community is going to be a real big hub for law enforcement training before we get through," he said.

County commissioners passed a resolution in support of the initiative Tuesday night.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.