HOMETOWN HIGH­LIGHTS

The Covington News - - LOCAL - JACKIE GUTKNECHT jgutknecht@cov­news.com

"We've re­al­ized, I've re­al­ized, that a lot of the prob­lems that we face here in Cav­ing­ton, Ge­or­gia are solv­able. There's re­ally noth­ing we can't solve when we put our re­sources and at­ten­tion to it, be­cause in these other coun­tries theyre deal­ing with such dire poverty or sex­ism or ter­ror­ism to a level we cant grasp" -CPD Chief Stacey Cot­ton said in re­gards to his re­cent trip to the repub­lic of Ge­or­gia to con­duct po­lice of­fi­cer train­ing.

Mem­bers of the Cov­ing­ton Po­lice Depart­ment (CPD) uti­lized their va­ca­tion days to travel abroad. The in­ter­na­tional trip was more than an ex­otic va­ca­tion, how­ever.

CPD Chief Stacey Cot­ton and Capt. Philip Brad­ford re­cently re­turned from the Repub­lic of Ge­or­gia on a trip to train of­fi­cers with the Ge­or­gian po­lice force.

Cot­ton said he has been in­vited mul­ti­ple times to do in­ter­na­tional travel with law en­force­ment. He has been to Is­rael, Lon­don andTurkey.

“We went there in 2015 to learn how their po­lice work and how they’ve re­for­mat­ted their po­lice,” he said. “The U.S. State Depart­ment there puts that pro­gram on. The U.S. and the Repub­lic have a thing ‘Ge­or­gia to Ge­or­gia’ where the State of Ge­or­gia has gone over there to help them in things like agri­cul­ture, busi­ness and law and all that kind of stuff, so law en­force­ment is one of them.”

Cot­ton said the 2015 trip was an in­for­ma­tive trip and since then he has been back four times to teach skills such as in­ves­ti­gat­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and ac­tive shooter train­ing. He said the trip is funded by a grant from the fed­eral govern­ment.

“When the Repub­lic of Ge­or­gia gained their in­de­pen­dence in 1993 from the Soviet Union, the po­lit­i­cal engine was still very much Rus­sian-type with, you know, a lot of cor­rup­tion, the law en­force­ment was very much cor­rupt be­cause it was the same peo­ple they just changed the name of the govern­ment,” he said. “In 2003, I be­lieve it was, with the Rose Revo­lu­tion they had, the pres­i­dent at that time ba­si­cally fired all 30,000 po­lice of­fi­cers and started com­pletely over, so their po­lice depart­ment is very new and they work re­ally hard with the United States to mod­ern­ize their po­lice.” Cot­ton said the trip is in­spir­ing. “It’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing in this part of my ca­reer to see po­lice agen­cies that are polic­ing roughly tac­tics that we were us­ing 30 years ago,” he said. “It re­minds me daily of what it used to be like. Not that we were in the an­cient times, it’s just do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, for ex­am­ple, the way we ap­proach it to­day is to­tally dif­fer­ent than how we ap­proached it 30 years ago.

“I have a lot bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of how far we’ve come in just the area of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. We still have a long way to go, but were lightyears ahead of what we used to be.”

Cot­ton said his trav­els have shined a light on the prob­lems CPD faces lo­cally.

“We’ve re­al­ized, I’ve re­al­ized that a lot of the prob­lems that we face here in Cov­ing­ton, Ge­or­gia are solv­able,” he said. “There’s re­ally noth­ing we can’t solve when we put our re­sources and at­ten­tion to it, be­cause in these other coun­tries they’re deal­ing with such dire poverty or sex­ism or ter­ror­ism to a level we can’t even grasp.”

Sub­mit­ted photo | The Cov­ing­ton News

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