The man hired as Glynn County Police Chief continues to face obstacles to actually being sworn in as chief. Jacques Battiste was hired in June to become the Glynn County Police Chief, a position that has been occupied by Interim Chief Rick Evans, since Jay Wiggins retired at the end of last year.
The search for a new chief was meticulous and involved the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police as well as the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. That search yielded Battiste, whose FBI background impressed the commission as well as the search organizations.However, shortly before Battiste was to be sworn in, WGIG discovered he was not a POST-certified law enforcement officer. While the county initially responded that they would be able to swear him in as chief regardless of his POST-certification status, they later scrubbed the ceremony after determining Georgia law would not allow Battiste to be sworn in. The county’s initial guidance on the situation led them to believe he could be sworn in while he sought his certification. While they learned he could not be sworn in as police chief, he could still handle the administrative operations of the department.
The issue of Battiste’s certification has been muddy since he was first brought on board. Since he was an active training officer in New Orleans when he was hired, and he’d been the chief of Xavier University’s campus police, assumptions seem to have been made that Battiste was POST-certified in Louisiana. From there, a simple written exam would have transferred his certification to Georgia. Contacting Louisiana POST revealed that Battiste was not certified. The presumptive chief claimed he was given an exemption in Louisiana based on his FBI experience. Georgia POST offers no such exemption, meaning Battiste would have to go through the entire certification process, not just take a test.
The certification process requires an initial physical fitness test and a psychological evaluation, followed by 12 weeks at the police academy. The first stumbling block came in July, when he failed the physical fitness test. An obstacle course was set up at the public safety complex for Battiste to train and attempt to improve his time on the course. His second try at the course this week also yielded a failing result. He will have another chance Monday to pass the test. If he fails Monday, his next opportunity may not come until next year. When reached for comment about the county’s response if he fails Monday, a spokesman said, “it will be up to the commissioners to make a decision on moving forward.”
Batiste’s contract calls for him to be certified within a year of his hiring, so the commissioners may be faced with waiting until next year, or initiating a buyout in order to install a POST-certified chief.