Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements to be a Valdosta Police Officer?

Minimum Requirements to be a Police Officer in the State of Georgia:

  • At least 21 years of age;
  • A United States Citizen;
  • No felony convictions according to O.C.G.A. 35-8-8;
  • No family violence related convictions according to O.C.G.A. 19-31-1;
  • At least a minimum of a High School Diploma or GED; and
  • A valid Driver’s License.

 Does VPD have a Recruitment Process?

In 2019 our department re-evaluated our Recruitment Program and made changes. Members of our team attended job fairs at Valdosta State, Albany State, Bethune-Cookman University and the Department of Labor. VPD also has officers speak regularly at TAPS out-process at Moody AFB

The Valdosta Police Department works with Valdosta State, Georgia Military College, and Moody AFB with their intern programs.  Over the past year we have hired over five officers who have interned with the department.

The department advertises on social media outlets and the media for open test dates.  Letters are also sent to the local NAACP Chapter and Southern Christian Leadership Conference for open testing dates.

 Once an application is completed, what is the hiring process like?

  • Initial application;
  • All candidates must pass a Standardized Pre-Employment test, from Morris and McDaniel, Inc., that consists of basic reading comprehension and observation skills.  This is recommended by the Georgia Chief’s Association;
  • Complete and return a supplemental application, which is used to conduct a background investigation.  This supplemental packet discusses criminal history, driver’s history, previous employment, drug usage, personal and professional references, etc.;
  • All candidates must pass the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Council (POST) entrance exam, per O.C.G.A. 35-8-8.  If candidate has a college degree and has taken and passed a college admission test, credit is given;
  • Oral Interview and Video Exam is conducted.  The oral interview is conducted with members of the Command Staff, who ask the same questions of everyone.  During this part of the process, candidates watch a video of an officer responding to a call for service and complete an incident report;
  • Candidates who make it through the interview process, must successfully complete a polygraph test, by showing no signs of deception; The questions for the polygraph tests are based off the applicant’s background information.
  • All candidates who have successfully completed all the steps up to this point, must successfully complete a physical agility test.  This portion of the hiring process has the candidate conduct physical obstacles that officers face on a regular basis;
  • The next step of the processes is a Psychological Test, which is conducted in Atlanta by Stone, McElroy and Associates.  This is also recommended by the Georgia Chief’s Association. The test performed in Atlanta. The cost of the test is paid for by the City of Valdosta, all travel expenses are at the cost of the applicant; and
  • Candidates who successfully complete the psychological portion, then go to a physical and drug screen.

 All candidates who successfully complete all the above steps, are sent to HR and the City Manager for review and approval. The last step is an interview with the Chief of Police and a final offer of employment. 

 Does the Valdosta Police Department have a code of conduct?

Yes, the Valdosta Police Department Code of Conduct addresses the following

  • Conduct Unbecoming an Employee (Sworn and Civilian);
  • Misuse of Firearms;
  • Mistreatment of Prisoners and Citizens;
  • Truthfulness;
  • Physical or Psychological Examination; and
  • Social Networking

 Do Officers have to go through training to carry a weapon?

 All officers issued an authorized weapon for the Valdosta Police Department must go through mandatory training to carry that weapon. The following training is required for CALEA Accreditation:

  • Authorization: Weapons and Ammunition
  • Demonstrating Proficiency with Weapons
  • Annual/Biennial Proficiency Training
  • Prerequisites to carrying lethal and less lethal weapons

 Does the Valdosta Police Department use Neck Restraints and/or Choke Holds as an approved response to resistance?

The unauthorized weapons and methods which are not authorized for use by members of the Valdosta Police Department, includes:

  • Neck Restraints/Choke Holds- Any maneuver used by an officer for the effect of subduing or incapacitating an agitated or uncooperative subject by the application of force or pressure to the neck is prohibited, except in those incidents where an officers is in a life and death physical confrontation and the action is necessary to defend the officer’s life.

 When Officers use force in response to resistance what is the protocol for internal reporting of the incident? 

  • Reporting Responses to Resistance includes the officer notifying his/her supervisors who respond to the scene. The report prompts an immediate review of Response to Resistance, Use of Deadly Force, and Discharge of Firearms Reports, by supervisors, Command Staff, and the Chief of Police.
  • The Department also does an Annual Analysis/Review by Professional Standards, which identify patterns or trends.

 What is the Internal Affairs Division responsible for?

  • The processing of all citizen complaints against a police department employee, and internal affairs procedures.
  • At a minimum the following types of incidents are investigated by the Professional Standards Unit:
    • Allegation of brutality/excessive force;
    • Civil rights violations;
    • Any allegation that can be criminal in nature;
    • Harassment;
    • Allegations of negligence or neglect of duty resulting in bodily injury or death; and
    • All complaints involving allegations of racial and/or biased profiling.

 Do all officers with the Valdosta Police Department wear body cameras? 

Yes, body cameras are issued to each sworn employee of the Valdosta Police Department and are required when the officer is interacting with any citizen.

  • Members of the Command Staff review and audit audio/video data, on at a minimum an annual basis, and provide their results to the Chief of Police.  This audit has been done bi-annually for the past several years. Members of the command staff immediately review body camera video on any formal complaints and/or response to resistance reports.

 How is Racial and Biased Based Profiling Addressed by the Valdosta Police Department?

  • The Valdosta Police Department prohibits the practice of Racial/Biased based profiling by any officers.
  • Annual training on the subject is mandatory for all officers
  • VPD reviews all complaints of Racial/Ethnic Profiling; and issues disciplinary action if warranted
  • An annual administrative review is done each year to determine patterns, trends, or violations

 How often do officers review the code of conduct and department policies?

  • All of VPD personnel review all departmental policies annually.
  • All VPD employees must sign Awareness Statements each year for:
    • Unauthorized use of choke holds by personnel, unless deadly force is authorized;
    • Unauthorized use of four-point restraints commonly referred to as “hog-tying”; and
    • The forbidding of Biased Based Profiling.

Each of these statements are signed and are a part of each employees training file.  Signing the forms acknowledges that the employees must abide to the guidelines and directions, or they will be held accountable for their actions. The Valdosta Police Department ensures that all forms are signed annually.

Does the Valdosta Police Department hold annual training for officers?

  • Each year all officers with the Valdosta Police Department are mandated to take the following training:
  • Racial/Biased based profiling;
  • Use of Force: *
    • includes the unauthorized use of neck restraints or choke holds, unless deadly force is authorized
    • includes “Duty to Intervene” by officers
  • Cultural Diversity;
  • Elder Abuse/Disabled Adults;*
  • De-escalation; *
  • Code of Conduct;
  • Search and Seizure;
  • Legislative Update;
  • Law Enforcement response to Mental Illness;*
  • Ethics and Professionalism;*
  • Off-duty conduct;
  • Sexual harassment;
  • Workplace violence;
  • Criminal Procedure;
  • Vehicle pursuits;
  • Use of Social Media;
  • Transportation of Detainees;
  • Domestic Violence;*
  • Property/Evidence;
  • Selection and Hiring;
  • Citizen Complaints/Internal Affairs;
  • Special Operations/Tactical Operations Unit;
  • Excited Delirium; and
  • Positional asphyxia.

*Training Required by GAPOST

 All of this training is approved by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Testing (GAPOST).  Some of this training is “in-house” CORE Training from our Training Unit, and some is mandatory on-line training.   Some of this training is mandatory by the state to keep certification/arrest powers.

Employees receive specialized training at other locations, such as Georgia Public Safety Training Center, Institute of Police Technology and Management, Georgia Law Enforcement Command Colleges, and other facilities that provide specialized training.

 What are the Valdosta Police Departments Response to Resistance Statistics for 2019?

Per G.O. 200-12, a written report will be required when an officer, “applies physical force by the use of hands, less-lethal weapons, or use of control techniques or other level of force to overcome resistance to the extent it is likely to lead to injury, claim of injury, or allegations of excessive force”.

In 2019, the Valdosta Police Department responded to approximately 72,427 calls for service.

The department recorded approximately 3,398 physical arrests.

The department recorded 24 Response to Resistance Reports

Two of the reports were for mentally ill or suicidal subjects who physically fought police, but no arrests were made, and one incident was when an aggressive dog attacked an officer so a Conducted Electronic Weapon (CEW) was deployed.

  • Aside from those three incidents mentioned above, there were 21 reports where force was used during an arrest.  Force was used in less than one percent (.61%) of the arrests that were made.
  • The results show that in more than 72,000 calls for service, force was used in .03% of police interaction.
  • Twelve (12) incidents the response used was “Physical to Overcome Resistance”, which represents that an officer had to use physical contact to gain control of a person, rather than the use of a weapon.
  • In seven (7) of the incidents an officer used a Conducted Electrical Weapon (CEW).
  • In three (3) of the incidents, a K-9 was deployed.
  • In two (2) of the incidents, OC spray was deployed.

 

  • In thirteen (13) of the 24 incidents, there was a either a complaint or a minor injury reported by the offender/citizen.  In five (5) of the 24 incidents, officers received minor injuries.  In one incident, an officer received a broken elbow and torn bicep, which kept him out of work for a few months.
  • All Response to Resistance Reports are reviewed by the officer’s immediate supervisor, then Bureau Commander, then Internal Affairs, and last is the Chief of Police.
  • In all of the Response to Resistance Reports, officers were found to be in compliance with departmental policy.

 What are the Valdosta Police Department’s Racial and Biased Profiling Statistics for 2018 & 2019?

  • In 2018, one complaint was filed against an officer that was unfounded, in which a citizen was pulled over for having an expired license plate. This incident was investigated by the former Police Chief.
  • In 2019, zero complaints were filed against officers.

 Were there any other complaints filed against officers in 2019?

Valdosta Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards received thirty-four (34) complaints, ten (10) of which were complaints of Excessive Force in 2019.  The remaining twenty-four (24) complaints, ranged from incompetence, rudeness, theft, and computer tampering.  Of the 34 complaints, two were filed internally from other employees, while 32 were filed by citizens.  A total of 27 complaints were unfounded, one was proper conduct, and six were found to be improper conduct.  Four of the improper conduct cases were accusations of rudeness, one was conduct unbecoming (related to a domestic issue), and one was excessive force.  In each of these incidents, the officers involved received discipline.

Ten (10) excessive force complaints received in 2019:

  • Eight of the complaints were investigated through an Internal Affairs investigation.
    • One of these eight complaints was brought forward by another officer that was on scene.  This complaint was found to be improper conduct by the officer due to a policy violation. The officer was disciplined.
    • Seven of the eight complaints investigated through Internal Affairs were found to be unfounded.
  • In two of the complaints, Internal Affairs, upon review of the officer’s body cameras, immediately determined that there was no evidence of misconduct. These were returned to the officers’ immediate supervisors to review.

Is there any program or policy in place for VPD Administration to review personnel issues early?

Per G.O. 100-61, the Valdosta Police Department has Personnel Early Warning System, which provides a systematic review of specific types of events, disciplines, and performance evaluations that allows for Command Staff to evaluate identify, and address specific trends with employees.  The Personnel Early Warning System is a mechanism to address personnel issues early with an employee and in a positive and non-punitive manner, to prevent a pattern from occurring.

I noticed that the Valdosta Police Department has a Citizen Survey Program. What are the results of that survey in 2019?

Members of the Valdosta Police Department provide survey cards to each citizen that files a report with the department, which includes accident reports and victims of crimes.  The overall approval rating for the department in 2019 was 96.7%.  If a citizen marks a concern on the card, the card is sent to a supervisor to follow-up with the citizen to address the concern.  These surveys address the competency of the agency and the perception of our officers.

Is the Valdosta Police Department accredited or certified by an outside agency?

The Valdosta Police Department voluntarily participates in the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), which in an international accreditation, as well as the Georgia Law Enforcement Certification Program. 

These voluntary programs provide standards that departments must meet to achieve and maintain their accreditation/certification.  These standards address:

  • Use of Force and use of force reporting;
  • Personnel Early Warning System;
  • Racial/Biased based profiling;
  • Internal Affairs;
  • Recruitment and Selection;
  • Training;
  • Detainee Restraint Methods; and
  • Annual reporting on mandatory standards.

How does the Valdosta Police Department prepare for large gatherings such as protests?

Event organizers must fill out an assembly permit while planning the gathering. This permit is reviewed by the Valdosta Police Department who assures safety measures are in place and proper personnel is in place.

How would VPD respond to large scale rioting?

The Valdosta Police Department has equipment and personnel who are trained to respond to large scale riot situations. If additional resources are needed, VPD has partnerships with other local, state and federal agencies.