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The Athens-Clarke County Pre-Arrest Diversion (PAD) Program is a collaborative effort of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, the Athens-Clarke County Solicitor General’s Office, the Athens-Clarke County Probation Services, and the Athens-Clarke County community. PAD is an initiative intended to divert first-time offenders of low-level, non-violent offenses away from arrest while holding them accountable for their behaviors. However, it is not a "get out of jail free" card.
As a department and community, we recognize the long-term value of identifying and addressing the root causes of certain minor criminal conduct (e.g., misdemeanor shoplifting and criminal trespass). Mental health crises, substance abuse disorders, homelessness, and other conditions are often underlying issues that influence the behaviors of individuals within our community. If we can successfully mitigate these types of root causes, then we believe we can reduce the rate of criminal recidivism and, thus, criminality.
In general, only individuals who commit certain minor offenses and do not have pending charges or prior criminal convictions are eligible. Officers who encounter an eligible and willing individual may refer him/her to the PAD program by citing them (as opposed to making an arrest) for the criminal offense and submitting proper documentation to the Solicitor General for review. PAD participants are expected to complete tailored requirements set through the Solicitor General’s Office that are designed to correct their individual behaviors. Participant success or failure is monitored through the Probation Services. Unsuccessful participants are subject to being removed from the program and prosecuted for the initial criminal offense. However, those who are successful in the program will not be prosecuted. This process is intended to simultaneously address individuals’ underlying issues/needs that influence criminal behaviors and meet the needs of society and the criminal justice system by mitigating recidivism, reducing crime rates, and decreasing costs.
APPLY NOW to become a police officer with ACCPD! We are an Equal Opportunity Employer looking for highly qualified, diverse candidates to serve as guardians of the Athens community. Our philosophy is that we are best equipped to serve the community when our Department reflects the community it serves. That is why our recruiting team is working hard to seek out a diverse grouping of men and women from within our own community. Please contact our Recruitment Supervisor if you have any questions about the application process. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Every prospective employee undergoes an extensive background investigation process which can take several months to complete. The process looks at past employment history, education, military service, criminal history, and other aspects of an individual’s past. This process includes psychological, physical, and polygraph examinations. The purpose of the process is to know as much about the person being hired as possible. Our Department only hires the most qualified candidates, and all files are thoroughly reviewed through the chain of command and the Chief of Police prior to an offer of employment being extended.
Every new officer must attend a Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) Council Certified academy and complete 408 hours of certified training to receive his/her Basic Law Enforcement Certification. In addition to the State’s basic training requirement, ACCPD puts every officer through advanced in-house training during its New Officer Basic Course (NOBC). This advanced training is about 200 hours that focuses on crisis intervention, implicit bias, de-escalation, domestic violence response, and community-oriented policing. It includes a 40-hour Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) module, Fair and Impartial Policing, and Integrating Communication Assessment and Tactics (ICAT). New officers are also required to complete 15 weeks of field training with an experienced and trained Training Officer. For its field training, ACCPD uses the Police Training Officer (PTO) model that was recommended by the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing because it focuses on developing advanced problem-solving skills and critical thinking skills. In total, every officer receives over 1200 hours of training before being released to perform law enforcement duties on his/her own.
ACCPD officers are also required to complete a minimum of 20 hours of P.O.S.T. Certified training each calendar year. Although many of our officer complete 50 or more hours yearly in a variety of advanced topics on law enforcement. As part of their yearly requirement, officers must complete training specifically in de-escalation, community-oriented policing, use of force, and firearms.
The Department fully supports everyone’s right to demonstrate under the First Amendment and has a proven history of working with the community to facilitate these types of events. However, it is important that demonstrations are peaceful and lawful. The Department will not allow for any violent or destructive behavior to take away from this Constitutional right. Traffic safety is also important to not only those demonstrating but also motorists. Anyone who is planning a demonstration should be aware of the County Ordinances outlining the proper procedures for these activities, to include the permitting process. Special Event Permits may be obtained from the Office of the Manager, the Office of the Clerk of Commission, or from the Police Department. Please know that the permitting process and our involvement is not meant to deter or stop the demonstration but rather to ensure everyone involved is safe.
ACCPD currently engages with our community in a variety of ways and we are always looking to do more. From the day an officer is hired, the training process incorporates a community-oriented policing mindset into every facet of training. Instead of relying purely on reactive policing and arrest tactics, new officers learn to actively engage the community in non-enforcement activities and incorporate the Scan Analyze Respond and Assess (SARA) model of policing to identify and resolve root causes to crime and quality of life problems.
We operate a specialized Community-Oriented Policing Unit dedicated to collaboration with the citizens of Athens-Clarke County to create a secure and safe community, while enhancing the relationship between the community and law enforcement. This unit is responsible for planning a variety of special events to encourage positive interactions between the police and our citizens and visitors such as: the Eggstravaganza Easter Egg Hunt, ACCPD Youth Summer Camp, the Gang Resistance Education and Training Program, National Night Out, Trunk or Treat, Shop with a Cop, Santa Cop, and more.
In 2019, ACCPD implemented its Community Liaison Program to establish and maintain positive and meaningful communication with our community. As part of the program, individual officers are assigned as liaisons with more than 100 groups and organizations within Athens-Clarke County. These groups and organizations represent a diverse set of backgrounds and interests and include: business associations, faith groups, homeowners associations, civic organizations, non-profits, and more.
Additionally, ACCPD is currently working with the ACC Community Police Advisory Board Development Task Force and the County Manager’s Office to develop a Community Police Advisory Board.
In a variety of ways! Please visit our social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Vimeo, or visit our website at https://www.accgov.com/200/Police. If you’re interested in applying to become a police officer, we’re hiring! Learn more at Government Jobs. The Department is on NextDoor where information is shared directly with residents of Athens-Clarke County. We also welcome community members to join us for in-person chats or virtually for discussions as they become available. In addition, the Department offers tours of our facilities, ride-alongs, and the opportunity for members of the public to attend our Citizen Police Academy. This 10-week program gives the public an overview of the Department through classroom and hands-on instruction from various aspects of police work. Graduates of the course will have a better understanding of the operations of the Department and a greater awareness and appreciation of the challenges and decisions faced by Athens-Clarke County police officers each day.