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Couch completes sheriff-elect training
Ga. law requires newly elected sheriffs to attend academy
SHERIFFgerald couch
Gerald Couch

Hall County Sheriff-elect Gerald Couch had completed more than 3,000 hours of advanced law enforcement training before his election. Now, he’s logged at least 3,160.

Couch, in preparation for his ascension to the county’s chief law enforcement position, last week completed the monthlong 160-hour sheriffs-elect academy.

“They teach you the history of the office of sheriff, and all the mandates particular to the office of sheriff,” — all 600-plus of them, he said.

Georgia requires newly elected sheriffs to attend the academy at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth immediately after the general election, according to a press release on Couch’s graduation.

Couch is already deep into preparing for his new responsibilities.

With the Newtown, Conn., school shooting dominating the dialogue, active shooter security has been the topic of many discussions this week, he said.

Although a tight budget has affected training for such incidents, he’ll find a way to offer more training, Couch said Monday. Part of meeting that priority is making the department run more efficiently in general.

Another campaign promise he made is creating a health and fitness plan for deputies.

Couch brings extensive experience across law enforcement agencies to the role.

As a major in the Gainesville Police Department, he attended chief executive training for the office of chief of police in October 2011.

Shortly afterward, he decided to run for sheriff.

Gainesville police officers who go through 11-week police academy training and then leave the department must pay those costs back to the city. The training Couch received was 60 hours spread across eight days, and Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police Training Director Paul Maharry estimated the cost was around $265. Couch does not have to pay that back, he said.

“You sign a contract if you go to basic mandate training at the Police Academy,” he noted. “You have to fulfill the full time of that contract or pay a portion of those funds back to the city.”

Georgia was the first state to require training for new sheriffs, according to a press release.

Friday marked the completion of the ninth sheriffs-elect academy since the 1976 Georgia law mandating the training, the release said.

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