Coweta plans permanent training center for first responders


Clay Neely/The Newnan Times-Herald

Will Rogers, K-9 handler for the Georgia Department of Corrections, rests with his bloodhound, Blaze, after a successful manhunt exercise during Mantracker 2021.

As first responders from across the region return to Coweta County for training this month, local leaders are considering a permanent facility.

For nearly 30 years, the Sheriff’s Office has hosted Mantracker, one of the largest law enforcement training events in the Southeast, which draws hundreds of people to Coweta County for training. POST.

Now Coweta plans to build its own permanent first responder training facility off Ishman Ballard Road, which would include a training campus for the Coweta County Fire Department, Coweta County Sheriff’s Office and 911.

For years the county shared a training center with the town of Newnan on the Greison Trail, but with the region’s continued growth County Administrator Michael Fouts sees the move as a win-win for everyone.

The facility would house a wish list of services for all local first responders, including classrooms, a firing range, driving trails and burnt out buildings on a sprawling campus.

Sheriff Lenn Wood said his team recently met with managers and experts from across the state to determine what works and what doesn’t for a successful training center.

“We do our due diligence to use the best layouts and equipment, so we’re on the cutting edge from the start,” Wood said. “We’re really looking forward to seeing what we can do here.”

Law enforcement training has never been more important, Wood said. As a result, many agencies spend time and resources ensuring their staff is up to date.

But the cost of training isn’t cheap, so having a local option would be a major benefit for agencies in the Atlanta and West Georgia metro areas.

“It’s something our community can be proud of, and the value of that is keeping our people local,” Wood said. “Many of the more specialized trainings are not offered locally. If we can create this opportunity, these small agencies will be able to take advantage of it. »

Although the opening of the training center may take place in the future, the sheriff’s office is preparing to reestablish a permanent K-9 training facility.

For many years, the Sheriff’s Office provided training for K-9 dog handlers, and Cpl. Mark Storey was an integral part of it.

In 2005, he completed a 640-hour training program where he learned the use of K-9s in situations involving explosives, arson, tracking, apprehension, and psychology.

“It’s the hardest law enforcement instruction I’ve ever received,” he said. “I ate it, but it also allowed me to come here to better serve our department.”

Between 2007 and 2011, the Sheriff’s Office trained K-9s for other agencies, including Troup, Fayette, and Fulton counties — even as far away as Gordon County.

But having a dog online isn’t cheap; Storey estimates the cost ranges from $12,000 to $18,000 depending on the amount of training needed. The training usually lasts at least six weeks and this cost does not include instruction, room and board, or per diems.

In the West Georgia area, most agencies use Alabama K-9 in Northpoint, Alabama, run by Ricky Farley. Depending on its location, many students would be shelled out for the full duration of the training, which is daily, Monday through Friday.

Sheriff Wood recently met with Farley and the two agreed that reinstating Coweta’s training services would be a positive move and would significantly reduce costs for many Atlanta-area agencies.

The proposed facility will be located across from Animal Services on Selt Road. Storey expects the facility and program to be operational by the end of summer 2022.

He is excited about the prospect of running the training center and believes it is a much needed service that will benefit many.

“I’m passionate about dogs and love teaching, so I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” he said. “You can never have enough training these days, so I think our organization is heading in the right direction.”


Comments are closed.