Georgia Public Safety officials aim to teach from tragedy, help officers cope


FORSYTH, Ga. -- An officer in Locust Grove was killed in the line of duty Friday. And in total, seven officers around the U.S. have lost their lives on the job in the month of February.

At the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, leaders are taking time to address the tragedies -- and not just with officers physical training, but their mental training as well.

"There will be things that come up in what we refer to as teachable moments," said Tim Melton, manager of basic law enforcement training at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center. "And then we say, 'Alright everyone come into a room, let's talk about this.'"

Melton says Laurens County Deputy Kyle Dinkheller -- killed on duty in 1998 -- comes to mind when they teach.

"Kyle would want you to learn from what happened to save you," he said. "To protect you and to protect the citizen."

Melton says the minimum amount of training is just a bar. They want all officers in for extra hours so that they can put themselves in the best and the safest position.

"We provide them with scenarios that allows them to know not only the when, but how and why to use force," Melton said. "We put those into that training cycle, so hopefully that when they get there, there's no hesitation."

John Hutcheson, the public information officer for the Training Center, says they offer crisis training as well.

"There are 12 officers -- full-time instructors -- that go statewide and provide the local agencies with assistance," he said.

Hutcheson says officer Chase Mattix -- the Locust Grove officer who was killed in Henry County this past Friday -- affects all law enforcement.

"Anytime an officer is hurt or killed in the line of duty, it affects all of us," he said. "Because it is kind of like a brotherhood."

Hutcheson says the training center does its best to let local law enforcement know about crisis training all year around -- not just in times of tragedy.

"When something like this does strike, they can automatically reach out and start consoling the officers that's dealt with it on a personal basis," Hutcheson says.

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