THOMASVILLE — The privilege of wearing a Thomasville Police Department uniform did not happen for John Letteney until several months after he was sworn in as chief.
The new TPD head had to work for it. Although he is a high-ranking officer in an international police association, with decades of police work under his belt, Letteney had to jump through a number of Georgia peace officer hoops to attain certification.
The chief was certified in North Carolina, where he was chief of the Apex Police Department until coming to Thomasville in January. Letteney applied to the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training facility in Austell. He received permission to attend — and successfully completed — Georgia police academy requirements.
He was accepted to continue and took a test.
"You have to have a letter of good standing," Letteney said, adding that North Carolina and Georgia standards were compared. "This test is all the requirements of the basic academy. It's a comprehensive everything on Georgia law enforcement."
As part of the training, he read a 2,000-page book, then a 1,400-page volume, while in the process of moving from North Carolina to Thomasville. Letteney said one does not have to read the books, but he wanted to pass the certification test.
He passed the test in March.
"I could answer most of the questions with confidence," Letteney said.
Georgia law calls for a chief executive to attend an eight-day Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police training class in Duluth. Subject matter included leadership, police development, open records, personnel and budgeting.
Letteney completed the course, but his training was not over.
Next, Letteney was required to successfully pass a course in Athens for emergency vehicle operators.
"You have to know how to maneuver a police vehicle, such as in skids in water, at high and low speeds," he said.
The chief successfully completed the "fairly demanding" course.
The next step was attending a use-of-force training symposium in Tifton. Training included learning about Supreme Court decisions.
"It was good to see that taught," said Letteney, who also passed firearm qualifications.
Once all certification requirements were completed, Letteney could rightfully wear a TPD uniform. He proudly wore the uniform his first full day of certification.
In addition to not being able to wear the uniform, Letteney did not have arrest powers prior to certification, another Georgia peace officer training rule.
"It is time to sit down and lead the department," the newly-certified chief said.