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Police change training academies

The Franklin City Council recently voted unanimously to adopt a pair of resolutions — one withdrawing the city’s police department from the Hampton Roads Criminal Justice Training Academy and the other enabling the police department to join the Crater Criminal Justice Training Academy.

The Franklin Police Department will now be sending its new, uncertified officers to the Crater Academy for training.

“It’s imperative to us that we provide the best resources to our staff and our new staff,” Franklin City Manager Amanda C. Jarratt said. Speaking for herself and city staff about the academy switch, she added, “We feel like this is in our best interest.”

Ward 5 Councilwoman Wynndolyn H. Copeland asked why Crater Academy is better.

“It is closer for us,” Jarratt said, and she then added that feedback from the city’s new staff also made it clear Crater was the superior choice.

“Crater also has been incredibly flexible with us when we needed an animal control school,” Jarratt said. “That was not going to be provided to us by the Hampton Roads training academy, and Crater provided it to us upon request.”

Ward 3 Councilman Gregory McLemore requested more specifics from Franklin Police Chief Steve Patterson as to why he was choosing Crater Academy over the Hampton Roads training academy.
“One of the biggest issues we’ve run into is that when I’ve interviewed my new officers that came from Hampton Roads (Criminal Justice Training Academy), there is a lack of updating material in the lesson plans (there),” he said. “(My new officers are) receiving old information.”

He added that his department recently hired a young man who went to Crater.

“Honestly, he’s heads above what we’ve had come back from Hampton Roads,” Patterson said. “His reports are stellar, his investigations are sharp… We hired him about the same time another one had graduated from Hampton Roads (Academy), and even the one that graduated from Hampton Roads said, ‘He was better hitting the street from the gate than I was coming back from the academy.’”

The chief stated that Crater does a lot more scenario-based training compared to the Hampton Roads training academy.

Jarratt said city staff evaluated the options at length and felt the switch was for the best, particularly in light of all the changes to laws recently.

Patterson said, “I’d also like to add, Mr. McLemore, that this same academy (is the one) Southampton County Sheriff’s Office attends, and a lot of the bigger agencies up around Petersburg, Richmond area are members of this academy as well, so I think the level of instruction and interaction will increase as well to help our newer officers.”

The chief, who has led the Franklin Police Department since 2019, said the department was previously a member of Crater, estimating it was around 2005 when the switch to Hampton Roads Criminal Justice Training Academy occurred.

“We’re back now at a point where we feel like Crater would be a better avenue for us at this point,” he said.