Forsyth County Sheriff and UNG create new training program for future police officers

Justine Lookenott

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On October 3, a welcoming ceremony was held for the first class of the UNG/Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Advanced Public Safety Academy(Image by Justine Lookenott)

(Forsyth County, GA) On Monday, October 3, a welcoming ceremony was held for the inaugural class of the University of North Georgia/Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Advanced Public Safety Academy (PSA).

“For several years we have fought to enhance the introductory training of our Deputy Sheriffs and those in the law enforcement profession,” said Sheriff Ron Freeman. “Our singular goal is to provide the highest trained and best equipped Deputy Sheriff to protect Forsyth County or their respective communities. We are excited to see the long-awaited opening of our University of North Georgia/Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Advanced Public Safety Academy.”

The welcoming ceremony was held at the UNG/Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Advanced Public Safety Academy Complex at 245 Castleberry Industrial Drive.

Sheriff Ron Freeman, PSA Director Dr. Butch Newkirk, Head of UNG’s Department of Criminal Justice Dr. Douglas Orr and Commissioner Chairman Alfred John greeted the students and gave a few words about the new partnership.

“What we were looking at years ago was who’s going to be leading our departments in the future?” Newkirk said. “Who’s going to be patrolling the streets? And what we’re hoping to do with our academy, this academy, is have our future leaders, sergeants, corporals, lieutenants, whatever they may be, to be the best they can be, and be knowledgeable, and have an academic background, and have a survival background and to learn how to do things correctly.”

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UNG's Public Safety Academy Director Dr. Butch Newkirk at the welcoming ceremony on October 3(Image by Justine Lookenott)

There are 28 cadets in the inaugural class, including nine females.

During his speech, Orr mentioned how the standards for policing have changed over the years.

“The stakes are higher, expectations are higher,” Orr said. “…there were times when I was scared, the only thing that should scare you, should probably scare the living daylights out of you, is arresting an innocent person.”

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Head of UNG’s Department of Criminal Justice Dr. Douglas Orr at the welcoming ceremony on October 3(Image by Justine Lookenott)

The Advanced Public Safety Academy

The UNG Department of Criminal Justice is already home to the Public Safety Academy, which is a multi-year program to prepare students for a career in law enforcement. Students earn the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (P.O.S.T.) basic law enforcement certification and can complete this academy in addition to their Bachelor’s Degree in the criminal justice field.

The Advanced Public Safety Academy is similar to this program.

“It's the same program, except we're adding a few weeks to it,” said Public Information Officer Stacie Miller. “...they're still going through the regular police academy, which is normally 10 weeks. But we're adding five more weeks to it giving them the more advanced.”

The extra weeks of training, while not required by the state, will give students additional beneficial skills.

“They will cover from dealing with persons with mental health and critical incidents,” said Freeman. “They will be PIT (precision intervention technique) certified. They'll all be rifle certified. There’ll be Brazilian jiu-jitsu for defensive tactics. They'll have search warrant and affidavits. They’ll have a number of what are called ‘intermediate or advanced classes’ that most police officers get years down the road. They'll walk out of this academy with that.”

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Sheriff Ron Freeman speaks to cadets at the Advanced Public Safety Academy welcoming ceremony on October 3(Image by Justine Lookenott)

The law enforcement field nationwide is seeing the worst recruiting numbers in 30 years, according to Freeman. UNG is the top recruiter for the FCSO (about 70 staff members are alumni), so “partnering with them just makes all the sense in the world.”

To learn more about the Public Safety Academy at UNG, click here.

If you have a news tip in Forsyth County, contact Justine Lookenott at justine.lookenott@newsbreak.com.

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I cover local news in Forsyth County, GA. My debut into the writing world began at the age of 10 when I won an essay contest in Around Acworth Magazine in which I wrote about spending the summer with my pet goat, Eclair. Since graduating from Kennesaw State University, I have been published in several newspapers and magazines in the Atlanta area including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlanta School Guide, What Now Atlanta, Newcomer Magazine, the Marietta Daily Journal and the Cherokee Tribune.

Forsyth County, GA
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