On Monday, five Thomson Police Department cadets began their formal training at the police academy in Columbia County.
In recent weeks, Thomson Police Chief Anson Evans has held two meetings as steps in his plan to improve the neighborhood and reduce crime in the Bussey Avenue and Gus Street area.
During both meetings, the discussion turned to the need for more officers and he point ed out two cadets had been waiting to attend the police academy. Because of COVID-19, training had been halted and the two cadets’ career paths into law enforcement had been on hold since February.
“The academy date got pushed back two or three times,” said Assistant Chief E.J. Bess.
Both Bess and Evans were on hand last Thursday night at the Thomson City Council meeting to introduce the cadets and let the mayor and council know they are starting training.
They will attend the police academy during the day in Columbia County and be able to return home at night.
“It’s a Georgia Public Safety Training Center sponsored academy, but it is run by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office,” said Bess, who commands the TPD patrol division.
Four of the cadets have no prior law enforcement experience, however one was previously certified as a police officer in another state.
“Some are from Thomson. We have one that was homegrown in Thomson and we have one that was known to work and live in Thomson but was not raised in Thomson,” Bess explained. One of the young cadets is a 2020 Thomson High School graduate.
What does this mean as far as getting more officers on the street.
“We want them to succeed and we will be working with them throughout the time that they are going through the academy,” Bess said. “Once they get out of the academy they go into what we called an FTO period, which is a field training officer.”
They will work with an experienced officer and continue their training. After completion of the academy, the cadets become fully certified police officers then begin work under direction of their training officer.
In the past year, the Thomson Police Department has also hired several experienced police officers.
“The guys that we’ve brought in in the last year, they’ve been very good. We always vett them based off their knowledge, training, and experience and we always talk to the people at heir former police departments,” Bess said.
The assistant chief said there is still a learning curve for even a new officer who is experienced since paperwork may be done differently in each department and they also have to learn the community.
“We work diligently with them. They work very hard getting to know the people,” he said.
Although delayed by COVID-19, the two cadets which have been waiting since February have already gained an insight into police work. They have been out in the community and doing ride alongs with the officers. Bess said they have had the chance to get ahead of the learning curve and experience some things they will learn during their FTO period.
“It’s still going to be an eye opening experience with them on day one when they get there,” he said.