Police training lapse could cost taxpayers

Updated:

ATLANTA,None —

Channel 2 Action News has learned that a widespread state issue with police officers losing their arrest powers due to training lapses is a liability that could cost taxpayers.

Investigative reporter Mark Winne spoke to the top officials at the Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission who showed him a new computer system that will fix the problem.

Earlier this month, Winne reported that a training lapse caused dozens of APD officers to lose their authority to make arrests.

A Georgia State Patrol spokesman told Winne 41 of the agency's troopers also had issues with their annual training requirements but 21 of them were clerical problems that have been resolved.

POST Executive Director Ken Vance said it has received 250 waiver requests in August alone from officers across the state who lost their arrest powers compared to 50 requests in a normal month.

Vance indicated it is a major liability to have officers without the required training on the streets if, for example, an officer shoots someone and it is discovered the officer did not have arrest powers.

“You have a big liability, but your police department and your governmental agencies have a much bigger liability,” said Vance.

POST confirmed such an incident has already occurred, but it is launching a new computer system to keep track of officers’ certifications and prevent it from happening again.

POST officials said the new system should dramatically cut the number of police officers who lose their legal arrest powers because of training deficiencies.

Mitchell Jones, POST’s director of certification and training standards, said the new system will enable POST to check an entire department quickly instead of just individual officers one by one.

“We’ll do random audits annually of our 1,200 agencies, is what we’ll be doing. It’s night and day,” said Jones of the big upgrade.

The technology official at POST said the old computer system goes back to the 90s and the basic software dates back to the early 90s.

“When POST switches to their new software and they’re able to audit police departments all across the state, I think that you’ll find APD is ahead of the curve on this one,” said Maj. Jeff Glazier, Atlanta Police Academy commander.

Glazier said he and his staff did their own internal audit of every APD officers’ training records by reviewing 1,816 personnel files one-by-one.

“We found that 85 needed training,” said Glazier of the number of officers whose arrest powers were compromised.

The academy commander said most of those officers have since complied with training requirements, but seven active APD officers were off the street as of Wednesday evening.

Winne asked Glazier if there will be consequences for criminal cases involving officers that did not have legal arrest powers.

Glazier responded, “Well I think it’s something that we’re concerned with, but I think it’s real premature to say that any case will be overturned.”

Vance said he will be at his post on Wednesday night when the new computer system goes live at midnight.