Jun. 24—From learning how to deescalate tense encounters with suspects or citizens to developing the skills and resources to deal with the stress of their jobs, Whitfield County Sheriff's Office deputies have the opportunity to take part in a new training program that sheriff's office officials hope will better prepare them for the demands of 21st century policing.
It's called the Modern Day Deputy Program and Lt. Juan Martinez, training officer for the sheriff's office, briefed members of the county Board of Commissioners on the program recently during a commissioners meeting. The program will be mandatory for new deputies and available to current deputies.
"We've come up with some ideas to improve the training of deputies and officers in the Whitfield County Sheriff's Office," Martinez said.
He said the program will supplement state-mandated training as well as training the sheriff's office already does. It will be done in house.
"So basically, we are learning from other communities," said Board of Commissioners Chairman Jevin Jensen, referring to unrest experienced in cities across the nation during the last year. "We haven't had some of the problems some of these other communities have had and we don't want to. It's helping deputies deal with citizens and deescalation (of tense situations) but also helping deputies take care of themselves and how they deal with the stress of the job."
Martinez said the training will consist of five eight-hour blocks offered during six months twice a year. It will focus on community relations, officer-neighbor encounters and "protecting yourself beyond the streets," and will feature simulator training on various scenarios that a deputy might face.
"We are in hopes that it will draw good candidates for employment and retain our current personnel," said Sheriff Scott Chitwood.
The training will be mandatory for new deputies, and commissioners agreed to provide a financial incentive for current deputies to complete the training, voting 4-0 to increase the pay of any deputy who completes the training by $1 an hour.
"We've raised the entry pay for new deputies already," said Jensen.