It will likely be a historic class. The five new Bowling Green police officers sworn in at a brief ceremony Tuesday at City Hall may be the last group of BGPD officers not trained locally.
The five graduated from the state Department of Criminal Justice Training Academy in Richmond, but in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, that facility closed indefinitely this week.
BGPD Chief Doug Hawkins said the city of Bowling Green’s new police training academy “is getting very close” to enrolling its first class. What’s left to do is finish developing curriculum, ordering uniforms and a few other smaller tasks.
Hawkins called the remaining items “the final touches.”
A local police training academy could drastically reduce the time it takes to get new police officers on the streets after they are hired, officials said, and the city got the go-ahead from the state for the academy earlier this year.
The current process involves a police officer candidate waiting for a spot at the academy in Richmond, and then embarking on a 20-week curriculum. The process results in about a yearlong wait from the date of hire to getting a police officer on the streets.
Hawkins previously told the Daily News that could be cut to six to eight months with a local academy.
The city had one police officer in the middle of his training when the state academy closed.
“We don’t know if he will go back” or complete training at the new BGPD academy, Hawkins said.
As for the pandemic that has shuttered so much of the state and nation, Hawkins said “we don’t anticipate it being an obstacle” to opening the local academy.