From Forsythe to Tbilisi: Georgia-to-Georgia Police Training Program Drives Home Instruction

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Drivers train at Georgia Public Safety Training Center to effectively operate and control emergency vehicles.
Drivers train at Georgia Public Safety Training Center to effectively operate and control emergency vehicles. (State Department photo)

From Forsythe to Tbilisi: Georgia-to-Georgia Police Training Program Drives Home Instruction

As part of an ongoing Georgia-to-Georgia partnership stretching from the Southern United States to Eastern Europe, the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsythe, Georgia, the State Department’s Bureau of International and Narcotics Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), and the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia teamed up to provide skills training to law enforcement professionals from the Republic of Georgia. This partnership supports U.S. government efforts to advance a secure and stable democracy and promote rule of law in a strategic country in Eastern Europe.

In September 2018, the 1,000 acre Georgia Public Safety Training Center welcomed 19 police officers from the Republic of Georgia, as well as Ministry of Internal Affairs National Academy Director Vano Papiashvili and Patrol Police Chief Temur Kupatadze, to participate in Police and Driving Instructor training courses. Nine officers from the Ministry of Internal Affairs' (MoIA) Police Academy staff in Tbilisi received Instructor Certifications. The three-week training course covered lesson plan development, presentation and instruction, managing challenging students, coaching struggling students, and general teaching tips.  This course, certified by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, is one of the most difficult academic courses in law enforcement, and academy staff will immediately begin teaching as full time or adjunct faculty at the National Police Academy in Tbilisi upon their return.

Visit to Monroe County, Georgia. (State Department photo)

Concurrently, the Georgia Public Safety Training Center provided Driver Instructor Certification Training to ten officers from a group of Patrol Police representing most regions in the Republic of Georgia.  The officers teamed with Deputies from the Harris County, Texas Sheriff’s Department in the two-week skills development course.  This training required students to learn and demonstrate effective emergency vehicle operation skills, including precision cone-course driving, breaking exercises, skid recovery, urban driving, off-road techniques, and high-speed driving.  To complete their training, the students designed training courses and taught portions of the basic mandate training.  Following this extremely demanding course, the students exhibited a dramatic improvement in skills.  Emergency vehicle operations training did not previously exist at the MoIA Police Academy, and traffic accidents remain the leading cause of death for police in the Republic of Georgia, making this instruction even more crucial.  

As one of the premier public safety training institutions in the United States, the Georgia Public Safety Training Center provided a unique opportunity to showcase operations and administration practices to the MoIA Police Academy Director and the Patrol Police Chief. The Columbus, Georgia Police Department also showed the Academy Director and Police Chief how their officers implement formal academy training, reviewed Department structure and operations, and hosted a very informative ride-along with the Accident Prevention team.  The professionalism, skills, and community engagement displayed by the Columbus Police Department demonstrates many of the tools and methods used in the United States to effectively enforce the rule of law.

Columbus Police Department Accident Prevention team. (State Department photo)

The Government of Georgia’s decision to adopt U.S.-style, modern law enforcement, and legal reform systems means that the United States' advice and assistance is critical. INL programs in the Republic of Georgia seek to strengthen public safety and security, improve justice, and safeguard human rights.

The Georgia to Georgia partnership continues to enhance law enforcement capacity within the MOIA and directly addresses Embassy Tbilisi’s civilian security goals. INL Georgia is actively engaging with MOIA to implement changes in training and patrol operations as a result of the September visit to the Georgia Public Safety Training Center and Columbus Police Department. 

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (center), Patrol Police Chief Temur Kupatadze (center in uniform), and GPSTC Director Chris Wiggington (far left) join the delegation and the INL team during graduation. (State Department photo)

About the Author: Michael Mahon serves as the Director for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Georgia.

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.