Over the past few years, Georgia residents have expressed increasing outrage over evidence of police brutality perpetrated against civilians. This is in large part due to recently publicized altercations between the police and residents, some of which have led to a number of tragic and untimely deaths. In response to public concern, Governor Deal recently announced the implementation of a major law enforcement reform program that will go into effect on January 1, 2017.
Phase One: Continuing Education and Certification Requirements
The governor’s training reform program has been broken down into three stages. The first stage involves increasing the number of required continuing education and certification courses that focus on the following issues:
- The use of force against civilians;
- The concepts of effective policing; and
- The importance of building positive community relations.
To this end, the list of training courses required by the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council will be expanded and must be completed by all officers who are are permitted to make arrests. The Georgia Public Safety Training Center will also increase the number of courses required for certification, so in addition to the existing 11 week training program, officers will be required to complete two additional courses from the following options:
- Use of force and de-escalation options for gaining compliance;
- Fostering positive community relations;
- Introduction to cultural competency in policing; and
- Police legitimacy, procedural justice, and community relations.
Phase Two: Crisis Intervention Training
Phase two will focus on expanding Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), which involves equipping police officers with the skill to handle situations involving individuals with mental illness. Up until now, this training has only been completed by 9,500 of the almost 57,000 state law enforcement officers in Georgia. To make the program and its resources available to more officers, CIT will be moved to the Georgia Public Safety Training Center.
Phase Three: Creating a Task Force
During the last stage the governor’s office will create a task force whose purpose it will be to review the current Basic Law Enforcement Officer Training Course. According to the governor’s plan, the task force will be made up of police officers, community leaders, elected officials, and lawmakers who will review training standards and formulate recommendations for areas of improvement. The task force will also be charged with creating a series of competency-based standards for all course revisions. It is hoped that using this standard will better prepare law enforcement officers for the use of critical thinking and tactical skills.
Contact an Experienced Civil Rights Attorney Today
The governor’s reform program represents a step in the right direction towards holding officers who use excessive force accountable for their actions and improving understanding between civilians and law enforcement in local communities. However, the process of reforming the justice system could take years, so if you were recently arrested and believe that your civil rights were violated, please contact Ford Law by calling 404-373-9881 and a member of our legal team will assist you in scheduling a consultation with a dedicated civil rights attorney who is well-versed in Georgia law.