Liberty County Sheriff’s Office in-house instructor Keith Jenkins was promoted to captain Friday as part of a department-wide restructuring. LCSO Sheriff Steve Sikes said Jenkins will oversee the department’s revamped, more intensive training program.
Jenkins joined the department after Sikes was elected sheriff last November. Jenkins, also a Hinesville city councilman, served as a Brunswick police officer for 16 years. Prior to his law-enforcement career, he was an Army engineer.
Jenkins said he is glad to be working close to home and is "proud to be working for an outstanding sheriff."
He said Sikes’ abundance of ideas to improve the LCSO drew him to the department.
Jenkins will implement training that includes vehicle rollover response, community policing, firearms, fitness and defensive tactics.
"It’s a confidence builder," Jenkins said of defensive-tactics training. He explained that this type of training enables officers of all strength levels to maintain their safety, a suspect’s safety and the safety of any bystanders.
Sikes said Jenkins is more than qualified for the position as head trainer, adding that 90 percent of a law-enforcement officer’s ability to perform safely on the street comes from proper training.
"An old officer once told me training is perishable," the sheriff said. Sikes intends to "raise the bar" for the LCSO and therefore require his officers to complete more than the standard amount of training set by the state, he said.
Sikes said having Jenkins serve as an in-house instructor will save taxpayer dollars. He said deputies won’t have to go out of the county for training. Jenkins will be accessible to the people he is training, thereby developing a closer relationship between trainer and trainee, Sikes explained.
"If you’re better trained, you’re safer. If you’re safer (as an officer), then you’re safer with the public," Chief Deputy Keith Moran said.
He said officers are required to complete 20 hours of training each year by the Peace Officers Association of Georgia. The LCSO will require its officers to complete 25 hours of annual training, he said.
"We’re requiring a little more to set the bar a little higher," Moran said.
He added that three LCSO deputies have completed bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice. More educated and better trained officers mean more qualified and diversified personnel, Moran said.
Sikes, too, plans to continue his training by taking a one-week course offered by the National Sheriffs’ Association in Colorado Springs, Colo., in September. Last week, he finished a 14-week Peace Officer Training Course at Savannah Technical College