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Training at Georgia PD Under Investigation

The executive director of the statewide council that oversees police officer certifications said his organization plans to look into possible training improprieties involving Brunswick's police chief once the city's investigation is completed.

Ken Vance, executive director of the Peace Officers Standards and Training council, or POST, said Monday he is aware of the Brunswick Police Department's ongoing internal investigation related to POST's request in June that all law enforcement agencies check online training records after a computer glitch allowed around 500 officers to skip through courses without actually completing them.

The investigation led to the suspension of Brunswick Chief Tobe Green and Capt. Mike Melton, City Manager Bill Weeks confirmed last week. Weeks did not go into any detail about why Green and Melton are on suspension.

Sources with knowledge of the situation have said their suspension is due to other officers completing required police training for Green.

But until the internal investigation is completed, that is all speculation, Vance said.

He has spoken with Weeks and encouraged him to practice the proper due diligence before completing the investigation and even suggested bringing in an outside agency if need be.

"In a thing like this, if you get in a hurry, that's where you get in trouble," Vance said. But, he added, "by law, if the suspension lasts more than 30 days, then we have to investigate."

Statewide, there have been dozens of similar investigations following POST's request to check computer training records, Vance said. Of those, he knows of only about 10 or 15 that have resulted in officers being terminated from their positions. All officers are required to complete at least 20 hours of training a year and chiefs are required to do a little more.

He did not speculate what the outcome of the investigation in Brunswick would be or what the future of Green and Melton may hold but added that it will have an impact on how POST proceeds when it is done.

"The local situation dictates how this thing progresses," Vance said.

Depending on how it goes, Vance said punishment could range from no action at all to revocation of certification.

If the investigation does show that another officer took training courses for Green, Vance said that may qualify as a criminal offense of falsifying records. If it does not show that, POST could still take some other sort of action.

But that all remains to be seen, he added.

"(We will start) as soon as we get whatever paperwork we can get," Vance said.

Green has been with the Brunswick Police Department 30 years and took over as interim chief in 2010 following the termination of former chief Edna Johnson. Green was given the permanent position in April 2011.

Maj. Greg Post is serving as chief in Green's absence.

Copyright 2014 - The Brunswick News, Ga.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service