Ga. Piedmont’s law enforcement academy gets reaccreditation again
Georgia Piedmont Technical College Law Enforcement Academy (GPTCLEA) achieves its first reaccreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). In 2014 GPTCLEA became the first law enforcement training academy in the State of Georgia to attain an International accreditation from CALEA.
On July 29 in Providence, Rhode Island, CALEA granted the Law Enforcement Academy their first reaccreditation. GPTCLEA continues to be the only training academy in the State that holds a CALEA accreditation.
According to Director of GPTCLEA Major Harry McCann, this is a significant achievement.
“It shows that we are doing what our policies and procedures say we should be doing when it comes to the best practices of running a law enforcement academy,” he said.
In January 2009, Georgia Piedmont Technical College (GPTC), known at the time as DeKalb Technical College, began its first Law Enforcement Academy (LEA) class as part of a pilot program with five other technical colleges. This program was an agreement between the Technical College System of Georgia and the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST).
The idea was to raise the training standards for new officers coming into the profession. The minimum standard for new officers was a mandate class consisting of 408 hours of instruction.
The technical college mandate was to go above and beyond that minimum by requiring 700 hours of training. This training not only included the technical side of policing, but also focused heavily on the academia/critical thinking aspect. In 2011 POST placed the Technical College Academies in a permanent status.
In 2012 the staff at GPTCLEA began to focus on raising the standard even higher. Steps were taken to have the GPTCLEA internationally accredited through CALEA. CALEA was started in 1979 and is considered the gold standard in public safety.
It was derived through the joint effort of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), National Sheriff’s Association (NSA), and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). More information can be found at www.CALEA.org.
In 2012 GPTCLEA began creating and realigning policies and procedures that would meet CALEA standards. In April of 2014 CALEA sent personnel to evaluate the policies, procedures and practices of the Acad- emy to make sure they supported those standards. “Those standards are extremely important as they represent the best practices that have been created at a national level.” McCann said. “This is not just one person or even one administration that is dictating how things should be done, but a nationwide collaboration on how to do things the best way possible.” He added.
To maintain its accreditation, GPTCLEA must undergo a rigorous review and approval process. CALEA sent another team of assessors in to Newton County Georgia to reassess. These assessors came from Missouri and New York and have no affiliation with the Academy or anyone in the college.
Their main goal is to determine whether or not the Academy continues to follow the rules and guidelines that were set out by CALEA. They do this by sifting through files, observing in-progress activity, touring facilities, and interviewing students, graduates, instructors and department personnel that have hired academy graduates.
On July 29, Major McCann and the Academy Accreditation Manager Karen Carter, sat before CALEA Commissioners in Providence, Rhode Island, to answer questions and provide explanations about operations at the Academy. There were approximately 100 agencies in attendance that had made application for accreditation.
These agencies sat before five different committees, separated by regions of the US and World, answering questions pertaining to their law enforcement academies ... Some agencies were recommended for approval outright, others had conditions tied to the accreditations.
However, GPTCLEA had no issues during their onsite assessment in April, answered the Committee’s questions to their satisfaction, and was ultimately awarded their first reaccreditation.
“I am very proud of the job done by the instructors here at the Law Enforcement Academy as well as Mrs. Carter as the accreditation manager,” McCann said. “This is a completely voluntary process, but even so, it’s not easy to potentially have someone come into your house and tell you that you are doing things wrong. Thankfully that wasn’t the case.” McCann said. “We were given suggestions and ideas on how to make improvements on an already excellent program, how to continue ensuring the graduates from this Academy will continue to be the best.” McCann added. “I live in this area. I want to know that graduates from this academy know how treat my community with respect and fairness.”
GPTCLEA runs three academies a year starting in January, May and August. For more information call 404-297-9522 ext. 5046.