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GNTC Law Enforcement Academy Graduation Held Thursday, Feb. 23

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Graduates of Basic Law Enforcement Training Class #201602 are: Back row (from left to right) Thomas Williams, Bryce Momon, Brett Nesbitt, Micah Alexander, and Andrew Hooker. Front Row (from left to right) Joshua McFadden, Keasha Brown, Enrico Garcia, Vanessa Robledo, and Gabe Shipman.

(Calhoun, GA) – Friends, family, and the community gathered at the Conference Center located at Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s (GNTC) Gordon County Campus to honor students graduating from Basic Law Enforcement Training Class #201602 on Thursday, Feb. 23.

During the ceremony, 10 law enforcement officers were recognized in front of a standing room only crowd. Advisory board members, chiefs, sheriffs, community leaders, and fellow law enforcement officers from the Northwest Georgia region and beyond also were in attendance at the ceremony.

The proceedings began with Jim Pledger, director of the Law Enforcement Academy at GNTC, welcoming guests and introducing current and former staff from the academy.

“I would like to give my appreciation to the chiefs, sheriffs, officers, and people from different emergency services that are here,” said Pledger. “Many of these people are also instructors for us and they come here and they pass along their expertise to these young individuals that are graduating today.”

The keynote speaker at the ceremony was Mike Barton, director of Internal Affairs for the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.

Joshua McFadden was the student speaker for the ceremony. McFadden told his classmates that everything they do from this day forward is earned.

“I know we will all be successful in this career path and we all sacrificed a lot of time away from our families to get here,” said McFadden.

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Joshua McFadden was the student speaker for the ceremony.
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Enrico A. Garcia (left) was presented with the “Top Gun” award for excellence in marksmanship by Jim Pledger (right), director of the Law Enforcement Academy at GNTC.

Enrico A. Garcia was presented with the “Top Gun” award for excellence in marksmanship and Thomas E. Williams, III received the Academic (Honor Graduate) Award for having the highest grade point average.

Graduates of GNTC’s Basic Law Enforcement Training Class #201501 are: Micah C. Alexander, Keasha S. Brown, Enrico A. Garcia, Christopher A. Hooker, Joshua B. McFadden, Kaden B. Momon, Brett L. Nesbitt, Vanessa S. Robledo, Gabriel B. Shipman, and Thomas E. Williams, III.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College provides quality workforce education to the citizens of Northwest Georgia. Students have the opportunity to earn an associate degree, diploma, or a certificate in business, health, industrial, or public service career paths. This past year, 13,734 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,876 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 5,858 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.

Basic Law Enforcement: Next Classes This May

Training To Enforce The Law: Basic Law Enforcement Academy

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The GNTC Law Enforcement Academy is now accepting applications for the February 2017 class!
If interested, contact the Law Enforcement Academy’s main office at 706-378-1728. You may also e-mail to dmcclellan@gntc.edu. Seats are limited!!!
#gocats #catscountry

French Connection Brings Basic Law Enforcement To Forefront

Georgia Northwestern’s Sainton Shares Story Of Police Work In Two Nations

 

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“French Police Nationale officer and GNTC alum Fabrice Sainton, left, poses for a picture in a Basic Law Enforcement classroom on the college’s Gordon County Campus in Calhoun, Georgia. Also shown is Basic Law Enforcement Academy Director Jim Pledger.”

 

(Northwest Georgia) – He’s personally guarded the biggest names on the planet. From actors to royalty, Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) alum Fabrice Sainton truly has worldwide experience in law enforcement. But, after more than 20 years in the business, it’s what he’s learned about his craft through law enforcement education at GNTC that has him giving praise.

 

“I’ve worked in law enforcement with the “Police Nationale” (National Police) in France since 1989. It’s an amazing job,” said Sainton of his service as an armed police escort for his country. “But now, the academy at GNTC is exceptional. Truly exceptional. It helped me learn what I needed to in order to grow in my field. It gave me the background and the reasoning behind what gets done in this profession.”

 

“Fabrice is one of a kind,” said GNTC Basic Law Enforcement (BLE) Academy Director Jim Pledger. “His background in the law really has made me, as an educator, work even harder at doing my job and providing what’s necessary to my recruits.” The BLE Academy begins a new class of recruits twice a year at the Gordon County Campus of GNTC in Calhoun, Georgia.

 

Going to GNTC was a simple choice. “Coming to the U.S., my lifestyle and my income changed greatly,” said Sainton. “But, I didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity like enrolling in the law enforcement academy. It was an eye-opener for me.”

 

Currently, on leave from the French Police Force, Sainton works on the support staff at the Technical College System of Georgia college while working on his educational goals. Earning an associate’s degree in 2013 through GNTC, he anticipates earning his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Reinhardt University this December. Then, he hopes to enter graduate school at Reinhardt University.

 

“I want to learn all I can while I’m here. There are many differences in law enforcement work between the U.S. and France,” added Sainton. “In France, the only guns that are owned by the public are only for hunting. We take that very serious. We also handle policing differently, in regards to patrolling. Here, a department will send out one officer to patrol an area. In France, you always have a partner with you. It’s just a different country that looks at things differently than we do in the United States.”

 

Sainton, a career officer for more than two decades in France, was first trained to be an armed motorcycle escort. The 48-year-old has guarded everyone from Princess Diana to President Clinton to the King of Spain.

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GNTC alum Fabrice Sainton, left, while on duty with the Police Nationale in France during his service while in-country, before his stateside assignment. This particular detail had him guarding Ray Charles, right, during one of the musician’s trips to France.

“Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Cruise, Ray Charles, and other celebrities have been special guests of the country that I would personally guard on many occasions,” added Sainton. “Schwarzenegger still e-mails me. I’ve led many details for royalty from other nations during major events. But, not everything was glamorous. I did lose Ray Charles once.”  When asked if Sainton meant the blind musician from the United States, he simply said, “Oui. Yes.” Apparently, Charles decided to leave his hotel room in the middle of the night and take a cab into town. When he finally returned after sunrise, Sainton met him at his cab and asked, “Mr. Charles, where have you been?” The world renowned singer simply kept walking into the hotel and said, “I just couldn’t sleep at all.”

 

Six years ago, Sainton left his assignment in France to fill an assignment stateside with military personnel in the United States in 2010. “I worked with American soldiers who needed to learn French for overseas assignments,” said Sainton. “Work in many foreign countries required soldiers to know Arabic. However, some of those same countries actually have even deeper roots in French culture. Many of them were originally French territories. So, many people there speak French.”

 

A little more than a year later, Sainton would be asked by his country to move closer to Atlanta to be more accessible to the French Consulate located in Georgia’s capital. “That’s when I moved to Marietta and, ultimately, met my wife,” proudly stated Sainton. “She was helping me find an apartment in Calhoun at the time. My wife always tells me that things happen for a reason. I was the lucky one, for sure.”

 

It was after this move, Sainton, a career National Police Officer for France, made the decision to pursue dual citizenship. In the next few years, Sainton would take GED® courses for a short time (because his equivalent high school diploma would not transfer) and pass the GED® exams, take English as a Second Language courses, graduate from the GNTC Basic Law Enforcement Academy, and earn an associate’s degree.

 

And, as tough as all that was to do, now Sainton has a tough choice to make this December. “Well, my long-term leave is up with the National Police and I have to return to France to meet with them and decide whether or not I want to stay with the force or move on,” said Sainton. “After going to GNTC’s Law Enforcement Academy, I’m about to earn my bachelor’s degree and pursue more education. Now, I have to look at my age and where I am in life and see what’s best for me.”

 

Sainton has two stepchildren with his wife, Crystal, 19-year-old McKenzie, and 15-year-old Hunter. He also has two older daughters back in France, Lucie is 23 and Justine is 20. “I have a lot of family to consider in my decision,” said Sainton. “I have a brother who lives in New Caledonia, near Australia. And, also, my parents are back in France, of course. It will be a tough decision. Plus, I’m going to be 50 soon. I don’t run like I used to. Maybe it’s time to slow down.”
For more information on the Basic Law Enforcement Academy at GNTC, you can call at 706.378.1735 or send an e-mail to jpledger@gntc.edu. You can also contact the college’s toll-free number at 866.983.4682 (GNTC). For information online, visit them at GNTC.edu, as well as on their Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, WordPress, and YouTube channels. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and an equal opportunity institute.

 

Since 1962, Georgia Northwestern Technical College has provided degrees, diplomas, and certificates in business, health, industrial, or public service career paths. This past year, 13,734 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,876 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 5,858 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.

GNTC Academy Helping Future Officers Trained, Bonuses To Sign

(Northwest Georgia) – Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s (GNTC) latest Basic Law Enforcement Academy graduates have a chance to see some serious cash. If they start their new career in Northwest Georgia, several agencies are now rewarding properly trained men and women just for signing their name on the dotted line.

 

The City of Dalton, Georgia Police Department is the latest agency to add a cash incentive to new officers just entering the field. It will require a three-year commitment from the new signee, but it’s a perk of the job that many will look forward to. A certified new officer could be eligible for a $4,000 signing bonus.

 

“A sign-on bonus could basically replace the out of pocket expenses the student accrued or pay off any student loans that were necessary to pay tuition,” said GNTC Basic Law Enforcement Academy Director Jim Pledger. “Those who have attended college can all relate to the stress of having to repay college loans. So basically, if the student is hired by an organization offering a sign-on bonus, they get the double benefit of being employed in their chosen field and being college debt free.”

 

Dalton, Georgia police officer Brandon Daugherty is the Recruiting and Community Involvement Officer for his department. “This is a Tuition Reimbursement Program to attract pre-service candidates to our agency,” said Daugherty. “Anyone who paid their way through the academy and recently graduated may qualify.  This offer is for new graduates that are certified.   It does not apply to certified candidates that are already employed at another agency.”

 

One way to get certified is through an academy like the one at GNTC. “The unique thing about GNTC is that the graduate not only gets their State Law Enforcement Certification, they also earn 42 semester hours that are transferable to our Criminal Justice program,” said Pledger. “Upon graduation, they are immediately employable and are more than half way to an associate’s degree in the field. Many agencies offer pay incentives for education, too.”

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“One of the latest groups of Georgia Northwestern Technical College Basic Law Enforcement Academy graduates pose for a picture. The program lasts approximately six months. Successful completion leads to a state certification and earns credit hours towards a Criminal Justice degree.”

Currently, Dalton, Georgia, the county seat of Whitfield County, Georgia, has more than 33,000 residents. Nearly 90 officers are currently on the force in the Northwest Georgia town. Law enforcement agencies will often hire a candidate and then send them to a state training facility for certification.

 

“If a new hire isn’t able to earn certification, the person may lose their job,” said Pledger. “Economics are starting to change this process because it is so expensive for the agency. Plus, if the student is not happy with the job and wishes to leave, the new officer may have to reimburse the agency for their training.”

 

If someone enrolls in the GNTC Law Enforcement Program, they take part in a six-month training that leads to state certification without the risk of jeopardizing a new job. “A technical college academy combines the State of Georgia law enforcement curriculum with the academics associated with Criminal Justice,” added Pledger. “And now, students are spending more time in high risk areas in order to develop critical thinking skills needed to make solid decisions in today’s tense climate.”

 

For more information on Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s Basic Law Enforcement Academy, contact their main office at 706-378-1728. For information online, visit the college at GNTC.edu, as well as on their Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, WordPress, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube channels. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and an equal opportunity institute.

 

Since 1962, Georgia Northwestern Technical College has provided degrees, diplomas, and certificates in business, health, industrial, or public service career paths. This past year, 13,734 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,876 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 5,858 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.

GNTC Law Enforcement Academy Graduation Held Thursday, July 15

 

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Graduates of Basic Law Enforcement Training Class #201601 are: Back row (from left to right) Laura F. Williamson, Matthew T. Touhy, Philip M. Parker, and Charles K. Humphrey. Front Row (from left to right) Thomas S. Gray, Caleb A. Chambers, Preston L. Barfield, and Ashley L. Bailey.

 

(Calhoun, GA) – Friends, family, and the community gathered at the Conference Center located at Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s (GNTC) Gordon County Campus to honor students graduating from Basic Law Enforcement Training Class #201601 on Thursday, July 15.

 

During the ceremony, eight law enforcement officers were recognized in front of a standing room only crowd. Advisory board members, chiefs, sheriffs, community leaders, and fellow law enforcement officers from the Northwest Georgia region and beyond also were in attendance at the ceremony.

 

The proceedings began with Jim Pledger, director of the Law Enforcement Academy at GNTC, welcoming guests and introducing current and former staff from the academy.

 

“Everyone that teaches here has a lot of experience and we pass that along to our students,” said Pledger.

 

The keynote speaker at the ceremony was Sheriff Mitch Ralston of the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office.

 

Ralston became Sheriff in 2009 and his law enforcement career spans over 27 years. He served on the Georgia State Patrol for 18 years which included serving on the SWAT team, DUI taskforce, and a number of other different assignments.

 

He is a member of the National Sheriffs’ Association, National Constitutional Officers’ Association, Young Farmers Association, Red Carpet Cattlemen’s Association, Coosawattee Masonic Lodge #306 F&AM, and Yaarab Shriners.

 

Ralston reminded the graduates that the image they portray is a very important component of law enforcement.

 

“Your integrity is your career,” said Ralston. “The way you conduct yourself on and off duty is a reflection of your department.”

 

Laura F. Williamson was the student speaker for the ceremony.

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Laura F. Williamson, student speaker for the graduation ceremony of Basic Law Enforcement Training Class #201601, presents Jim Pledger, director of the Law Enforcement Academy at GNTC, with a plaque from the class.

Caleb A. Chambers was presented with the “Top Gun” award for excellence in marksmanship and Preston L. Barnfield received the Academic (Honor Graduate) Award for having the highest grade point average.

 

Graduates of GNTC’s Basic Law Enforcement Training Class #201501 are: Graduates of GNTC’s Basic Law Enforcement Training Class #201601 are Ashley L. Bailey, Preston L. Barfield, Caleb A. Chambers, Thomas S. Gray, Charles K. Humphrey, Philip M. Parker, Matthew T. Touhy, and Laura F. Williamson.

 

Georgia Northwestern Technical College provides quality workforce education to the citizens of Northwest Georgia. Students have the opportunity to earn an associate degree, diploma, or a certificate in business, health, industrial, or public service career paths. This past year, 13,734 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,876 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 5,858 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.

Local Media Experiences Gun Simulator with GNTC’s Basic Law Enforcement

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Seen here at the GNTC Basic Law Enforcement facility in Calhoun, Georgia are, from left, AM1180’s Bonnie Kinnamont, Chattooga County’s Sheriff Mark Schrader, Chattooga County Deputy Josh Powell and GNTC Basic Law Enforcement Director Jim Pledger.


Written by Bonnie Kinnamont (Courtesy Chattooga AM1180)

Courtesy: Chattooga AM1180
 

On Thursday, April 28, 2016, AM1180 employees, Bonnie Kinnamont and Kelly Jones had the opportunity to attend a gun simulator course at Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s Calhoun campus. Accompanied by Sheriff Mark Schrader and Chattooga County Sheriff’s Department Communications Officer Josh Powell, Bonnie and Kelly experienced first hand what it’s like to be in a dangerous, high stress environment while having to make decisions in a split second.

 

The simulator is the same one used by Georgia Northwestern Technical College to train students going through the Basic Law Enforcement Academy at the college’s Gordon County Campus. Typically, a graduate from a police academy will undergo 10-11 weeks of education and training. However, Georgia Northwestern Technical College has a 22-week program that prepares students physically, legally, mentally and arms them with the knowledge necessary to be able to handle any situation they may experience in the field.

 

Program Director of the Basic Law Enforcement Academy, James Pledger, led the course walking Bonnie and Kelly through a series of interactive videos subjecting the women to real life situations encountered by officers on a daily basis. The Gun Simulator is equipped with a large screen on which the interactive scenario is projected via an overhead projector. Students are given a .45 caliber pistol equipped with a laser that communicates with the software. The pistol is an actual gun without the firing mechanism, allowing the student to experience what it’s like to use their service weapon realistically.

 

With hundreds of scenarios, Pledger selected a video encouraging Bonnie and Kelly to communicate with the individuals on screen and be prepared to decide what they would do when immersed in the situation just like a police officer.

 

With the lights off, the screen acts as a virtual reality experience placing the women in a variety of real life scenarios. The first is a school setting. Moving through the hallways, commotion can be heard as a classroom is approached. Upon entry, Bonnie encounters a teenage boy with a gun to his temple, two students lay facedown on the ground at the young man’s feet. The young man begins yelling at Bonnie as she tries to calm him down. The male student becomes increasingly agitated as Bonnie continues to tell him to put the gun down and calm down.

 

Before Bonnie is even able to react, the student turns the gun on her and pulls the trigger. In shock, she stares at the screen wondering how in the world this happened so quickly. The video stops and the Pledger explains how in a situation where a threat is clearly present and individuals are already injured or dead, discharging your weapon to neutralize the threat is justified. The experience shows how quickly an officer has to judge a situation and be able to react in order to neutralize that threat and eliminate the endangerment of others.

 

The next video is a traffic stop on a dirt road. The vehicle occupant emerges visibly angry that he’s been pulled over. He begins throwing his hands up and yelling at the officer (Bonnie Kinnamont) to leave him alone and bother someone else. Bonnie tells him to calm down but the man turns reaches in his vehicle and as he begins to point a gun at Bonnie, she discharges her weapon shooting the man. The scenario illustrates how quickly an ordinary traffic stop can turn life threatening. Once again, it is the duty of these men and women who serve in the Police Force to neutralize the threat in an effort to not only protect civilians but themselves as well.

 

Next, Kelly picks up the gun and stands in front of the screen. The scene is behind a store with what looks like a man trying to break into an SUV. Approaching the man, Kelly asks him to step away from the vehicle to which he calmly responds, “Oh no, it’s okay. It’s my car.” Again, Kelly asks him to step away so they can verify it is indeed his vehicle and the man explains that he’s locked his keys in the car in the ignition. At this point, it’s clear he’s becoming irritated as he walks to the back of the vehicle. You can hear something drop and he comes back around the corner but now he has a gun pointed at Kelly. She shoots instinctively eliminating the threat. An interaction that began calmly quickly turned deadly and the ability to react quickly is imperative in the situation.

 

Kelly’s next scene is in another school where students are scattered through the hallways. A girl’s scream can be heard as you see her with her face in the corner, hands covering the sides of her head. Barely visible, a young man points a gun around the corner, Kelly instinctively fires as the video halts. The speed with which everything played out is unimaginable. The threat presented and the fear of hitting the young lady standing dangerously to the threat is overwhelming.

 

Going through several more scenarios, it’s clear that the environments and situations that the members of the police force are subjected to on a daily basis can rage from  your typical traffic stop to a domestic violence situation to a high stress environment such as a school shooting. The ability to diffuse a situation with clear, concise thinking and quick decision making skills is of the utmost importance. These officers walk into these situations every single day not knowing what the outcome may be.

 

The last scenario is another school. Students are pouring from a classroom as Bonnie intently tries to gauge where the shooting is coming from. Students are already face down in the hallway injured or dead as more students pour from the doorway. It’s overwhelming not knowing which student is the source of all this chaos. The last student to emerge from the door is a young boy, he looks to be about 10 or 11, dark hair and tan skin. A gun hangs by his side in his hand, his face full of misery as he looks at the officer and says, “I’m sorry, I didn’t want to do it…” The gun is pointed in the officer’s face before she even realizes it as the young man pulls the trigger. Frozen, she stares at the screen.

 

It’s difficult not to be emotional seeing such a young person in such a terrible situation. Your heart aches wanting to be able to fix it for this young man but as an officer who has sworn to protect and serve, it is that Officer’s sole responsibility to neutralize that threat to ensure no one else is killed or hurt. It’s heartbreaking to know these men and women have to deal with these situations every single day but it sheds light on the reality of what they are faced with and the decisions they have to make in order to ensure protection.

 

Being able to experience the Gun Simulator really gives a higher level of appreciation and respect to the individuals who put on that uniform every single day and patrol our streets. It’s difficult to even imagine being in their shoes, especially after the simulator. As a mother, a daughter, a friend, I have no idea what I would do. If encountered with these situations in real life, could I make the decision necessary to protect others or would I freeze in fear like I did in front of that screen?

 

The Gun Simulator helps to shine a light on the reality of a day in the life of a police officer. The experience leaves one with a renewed respect and completely different outlook on these men and women who put themselves in the line of danger on a daily basis. With a new outlook and great respect, we appreciate each and every one of the members of our Local Law Enforcement.

Training for the Streets at GNTC’s Basic Law Enforcement Academy

A New Breed of Officer Prepares for Tomorrow

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“Calhoun Police Officer Hannah Graham, right, poses with Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) Basic Law Enforcement Academy Director Jim Pledger. The two stopped for an interview in one of the classrooms used for academy study on the Gordon County Campus of GNTC.”


(Calhoun, Georgia)
– You’ve seen the videos on the Internet and your television. Videos of what appear to be law enforcement officers using what some call, “excessive force.” Some of the situations have turned fatal for officers and suspects, alike.

Although a video doesn’t tell the entire story of what is taking place in a situation, it does bring to light a topic that the Basic Law Enforcement Academy (B.L.E.) at Georgia Northwestern Technical College takes extremely seriously. It’s all about the use of force exhibited by officers.

“Every 22 weeks, we bring a brand new group of recruits into the academy,” said Jim Pledger, Director of the GNTC B.L.E. Academy. “Teaching these young men and women about the realities of a life in law enforcement is something we take incredibly serious. And fortunately, we’ve been blessed enough to be able to properly train so many regarding the use of force and all that comes with it.”

The last three classes to complete the academy at GNTC have benefited from the training. Every single graduate from those previous groups were placed into a career. “We get calls from across the state asking for quality candidates for openings that law enforcement agencies need to fill now,”  said Pledger. “They are talking to candidates before they even graduate.”

One graduate that is close to home and fell into that category is 24-year-old Hannah Graham. The former Coosa High School (Rome, Georgia) athletic standout is now patrolling the streets of Calhoun, Georgia. In her second year on the force in Gordon County, Graham has already put her academy training and athletic instincts to work in the line of duty.

“I’ve only had one arrest really get physical,” said Graham. “The suspect appeared to be under the influence of something and was having a bad ‘high’. After the suspect sobered up, that person asked for me to visit them in the hospital and apologized to me for being physically aggressive toward me. It’s not a personal thing when a suspect acts out. You have to keep it that way. I’ve learned a lot from the academy and Calhoun Police Department in that regard.”

The United States Bureau of Justice Statistics defines “use of force” as the amount of effort required by law enforcement to gain compliance from an unwilling subject. When it becomes excessive, according to the same source, is when that effort is beyond what is reasonably believed to be necessary to gain the same level of compliance.

“It’s about teaching the future officer how to control a situation,” said Pledger. “We are teaching these students to apply force when it is required. And also, showing them what kind of force is necessary and reasonable in doing the job.”

Graham, currently in her fifth year with the U.S. Army National Guard, says she knows just how serious the academy is about handling these potentially dangerous situations, adequately and appropriately. “Any suspect trying to get away is not necessarily attempting to hurt the officer,” said Graham. “They simply don’t want to be detained and are trying free themselves.”

During the “Use of Force” section of training at the Calhoun, Georgia-based academy, students learn first-hand how to deal with a physical situation with a suspect. “Use of force isn’t about someone being angry and fighting them,” stated Pledger. “It’s about controlling a situation with only the amount of force that is necessary. Anytime you go beyond that boundary, then you are violating the fourth amendment involving search and seizure; as well as due process.”

The constitution does not require a person walking down the street to speak with a police officer, unless there is suspicion of something taking place that shouldn’t. “However, if it’s the middle of the night and we see someone prowling through something behind Wal-Mart, and we ask, can we talk with you for a moment? If they say no, now we can seize them because we have a suspicion that something is going on,” said Pledger.

Stories of suspects being hurt while in the custody of law enforcement agencies are all too common across the country these days. But as the academy’s director teaches the students, the job is about more than protecting the innocent. “Once I have you in custody, you’re in custody,” said Pledger. “And now, it’s my job to protect you and make sure you get to where you need to be, safely. Once I have you in handcuffs, I have no right to ‘get you back’. We have defensive tactic classes that teach the right way to handle this. Everyone has rights that are to be respected.”

Graham, who started working night shift for the Calhoun Police Department just two days after her graduation from the GNTC B.LE. Academy, looks at the sensitive situation like this. “I ask my friends if they have ever visited a doctor that they felt wasn’t that good,” said Graham. “I then ask if they think, as a result, that all doctors must be bad. And, of course, they don’t think that. So, if a few officers in the world are accused of questionable practice, that doesn’t mean every officer is going to be that way. We do what we do because we care about the town. We really do care about the people.”

Her own family are among those she is working for every time she hits the streets. Of course, she has seen the good and the bad when it comes to those closest to her, just like everyone else. She has had several family members sentenced to prison during her life time. “It’s played a part in my decision to pursue law enforcement,” said Graham. “The important part of this job is to just let the people know we are here and will do what’s necessary, if and when the time comes.”

The Floyd County, Georgia native will take a hiatus from her police duties. Later this year, her U.S. Army National Guard unit will be called up to active duty. It’s a deployment that is expected to send her overseas. “They say her job will still be there for her when she returns from her military obligation,” said Pledger. “Calhoun’s Chief (Garry) Moss met with her before her graduation and was sold on her right away. She’s been with them for two years now.”

“I’ve always wanted to be a police officer,” said Graham. “Everybody wanted to be a police officer or a firefighter when I was younger. It all just sort of worked out for me. A friend of mine went through the (B.L.E.) academy a year before I did and talked me into going, too. Everything has just fit together for me.”

The final day to apply for the next academy is February 1. Classes begin February 8. Call 706.378.1728 or e-mail dmcclelland@gntc.edu for information.

For more information on Basic Law Enforcement Academy at Georgia Northwestern, contact them at 706.378.1728. Or, you can contact the main line at GNTC at 866.983.4682 (GNTC). For information online, visit them at GNTC.edu, as well as on their Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, WordPress, and YouTube channels. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and an equal opportunity institute.

Since 1962, Georgia Northwestern Technical College has provided degrees, diplomas, and certificates in business, health, industrial, or public service career paths. This past year, 13,734 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,876 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 5,858 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.

Ahead Of His Time: Dalton Teen Dual Enrolls His Way To Dual Graduations

“18-year-old Jonathan Cochran stops for a quick picture in front of Building A on the Whitfield Murray Campus of Georgia Northwestern Technical College. Cochran graduated from Southeast Whitfield High School this past spring. He is scheduled to earn his Associate Degree in Criminal Justice next month.”
“18-year-old Jonathan Cochran stops for a quick picture in front of Building A on the Whitfield Murray Campus of Georgia Northwestern Technical College. Cochran graduated from Southeast Whitfield High School this past spring. He is scheduled to earn his Associate Degree in Criminal Justice next month.”

(Dalton, Georgia) – For someone who doesn’t have much time for himself, 18-year-old Jonathan Cochran is definitely ahead of schedule for your average teenager.

In an age which many are experiencing their adult life for the first time, perhaps taking a first job or signing up for a few college courses, Cochran is just over a month away from earning his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Georgia Northwestern Technical College.

Of course, that’s a fine accomplishment for a young adult. However, coupled with the fact he just graduated from high school six months ago, it’s downright incredible!

Born on Valentine’s Day in 1997, this Northwest Georgia native first fell in love with the idea of being a physical therapist. “I heard it was a career choice that would pay well,” said Cochran. “However, as I got older, I learned quickly it’s not always about the money. I want a career that I will love and have a true passion for.”

So, to get a jump start on life, Cochran enrolled in dual enrollment courses at Southeast Whitfield High School during his junior and senior years. He would earn credit towards his high school diploma and his Associate Degree from Georgia Northwestern, simultaneously. “I’ve even completed my internship already through the Dalton State (GA) Public Safety Office,” said Cochran.

The son of a mechanic and a property manager in Northwest Georgia, Cochran graduated from the ranks of the Raiders at Southeast Whitfield on May 26. Now a Bobcat, he’ll graduate from Georgia Northwestern Technical College on December 10.

“I wanted to be in law enforcement for a very long time,” mentioned Cochran. In the heart of high school football country, Cochran was asked about his extracurricular activities as he made his decision to do dual-enrollment with Georgia Northwestern. “I’ve done nearly 100 hours of ride-along shifts with local law enforcement agencies, if that counts as extracurricular.” Cochran also served as a member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team) Academy Team 10.

Now an employee at Dollar General in Dalton, Georgia and a firefighter explorer with the Dalton Fire Department, this future criminal justice pro has big plans. “I intend to work in cyber security for a federal law enforcement agency,” added Cochran. Following his second walk across a graduation stage in six months, he plans on attending Kennesaw State University or Dalton State University for a Bachelor’s Degree in computer science.

Cochran’s parents, David and Meredith, and three brothers, Caleb, Nick, and Chris, all currently live in Dalton, Georgia.

Approximately 14,500 people benefit from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs, making it the largest college in Northwest Georgia and the fifth largest technical college in Georgia. Georgia Northwestern offers classes on-campus or online throughout the year. GNTC serves Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Murray, Polk, Walker, and Whitfield counties in Georgia with campuses located in Floyd, Gordon, Polk, Walker, and Whitfield counties.

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