Aspiring officers to foot bill

The Public Safety Institute at Reinhardt College North Fulton Center is expected to save local police departments thousands of dollars in hiring expenses by producing certified officers who've paid for their own training.

Students who pay a $5,000 tuition for police officer certification can earn a fourth of the credits needed to obtain an associates degree in criminal justice. Certification without any college credits is $4,000.

Police departments would save money by hiring a graduate of the program, because they typically spend about $30,000 to put a new recruit through the police academy, said Gary George, director of public safety for the city of Alpharetta.

The institute is the first of its kind in Georgia, said Reinhardt College President Tom Isherwood.

The program allows aspiring police officers to pursue Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) Council certification, which was previously available only in a police academy setting.

"Never again will we hire a non-certified applicant and send them to a police academy," George said.

The institute will offer courses for firefighters, emergency medical technicians and homeland security management in the fall.

Homeland security jobs are expected to be plentiful in the government and corporate sectors in coming years, said Tom Childers, coordinator of off-site campuses for Reinhardt College. He said an estimated 515,000 trained personnel will be needed nationally within the next decade.

The Public Safety Institute was developed in conjunction with the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety, the Georgia P.O.S.T. Council and the Fulton County Commission.

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