Official Opinion 96-16
Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council
You have asked for advice regarding whether a police chief, who has been a police chief in one jurisdiction prior to December 31, 1992, and resigns that position to become a newly appointed police chief of another law enforcement unit in 1996, must take the 60 hour training course required under O.C.G.A. § 35-8-20.1(a). For the reasons outlined below, the 60 hour training course is required.
Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 35-8-20.1(a) provides:
Any newly appointed chief of police or department head of a law enforcement unit whose term of employment commences after December 31, 1992, shall complete a minimum of 60 hours of law enforcement chief executive training at the next scheduled law enforcement chief executive training class sponsored by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police following his or her appointment.
The purpose of the Act, as you have stated according to the Georgia Chiefs of Police, is to acquaint new appointees with basic responsibility associated with managing a law enforcement agency. However, not only are there new police chiefs who have
never been chiefs before, but there are chiefs who go from a small law enforcement agency to a large enforcement agency in the State of Georgia. This may be one reason that the plain language of the Act dictates the answer in this case. The statute provides that a "newly appointed chief . . . whose term of employment commences after December 31, 1992" must take the 60 hour course. O.C.G.A. § 35-8-20.1(a) (emphasis added). Even though the chief, about whose training you inquire, has been a chief of police, he is newly appointed to a different agency and his term of employment began after December 31, 1992. Therefore, the statute does require his attendance at the 60 hour course.
However, as noted in O.C.G.A. § 35-8-20.1(g), "[a] chief of police or head of a law enforcement department who successfully completes the [60 hour] training . . . will not be required to repeat such training" upon appointment to another department. The only other exception to the 60 hour training is the possibility of a waiver if the chief is "unable to complete such training due to medical disability, providential cause, or other reason deemed sufficient by the council." O.C.G.A. § 35-8-20.1(h).
Therefore, under the current language of the Act, O.C.G.A. § 35-8-20.1 requires that a newly appointed police chief who assumes his term of employment in a new position after December 31, 1992, must take the 60 hours of chief executive training unless the appointed chief has previously completed the training.
CAROL A. CALLAWAY
Senior Assistant Attorney General