DeKalb Tech offering POST-certified training

CONYERS - Applications for the second class of the Law Enforcement Academy at DeKalb Technical College are now being accepted.

The first class offered at the DeKalb Tech campus in Covington is nearing completion, and the next 17-week class is scheduled to begin May 4.

DeKalb Tech is one of six technical colleges in Georgia that is participating in a pilot program to offer a mandated law enforcement academy.

The other schools are Augusta Tech, Coosa Valley Tech, Ogeechee Tech, Savannah Tech and South Georgia Tech.

The six programs are certified by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.

The Basic Law Enforcement Academies project is collaboration between the TCSG, POST and the Georgia Public Safety Training Center. It allows new law enforcement officers to receive their basic training at a state technical college and obtain college credit at the same time.

The DeKalb Tech course is 744 credit hours, which is more than the 408 hours minimum required by POST, said Beverly Thomas, director of the Law Enforcement Academy at DeKalb Tech.

Students who graduate from DeKalb Tech's Law Enforcement Academy will have 59 college credit hours that can be applied toward an undergraduate degree - only 8 credits shy of an associate's degree offered at DeKalb Tech.

Thomas said the Law Enforcement Academy is working with other four-year institutions to create hybrid programs.

As students enrolled in college credit courses, most trainees will be eligible to receive Georgia HOPE grants and federal Pell grants that will offset the cost of their technical college education.

About half of the 13 trainees at DeKalb Tech are employed by area law enforcement agencies, such as the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office or Conyers Police Department. The others are what Thomas calls pre-service recruits - those looking to begin a career in law enforcement.

The course includes classes such as basic mandates, criminal procedures, traffic stops, firearms and emergency vehicle training.

For the past week, the trainees have been at the Newton County Firing Range, including time for some late-night target practice. Next week, the classes will focus on driving at a course in Lithonia.

Thomas said the application process is rigorous and prospective recruits should get started early.

Thomas said applicants will, among other things, have a formal in-person interview, undergo a criminal background check and be fingerprinted.

"It's a long process," he said.

She said applications for the upcoming semester should be turned in by April 10.

Applications can be found online at http://dtclea.dekalbtech.edu or at DeKalb Technical College, 8100 Bob Williams Parkway in Covington.

Aimee Jones can be reached at aimee.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.