On the Beat with Lt. Berg

Lt-BergLt. J.W. Berg is Tucker’s liaison to the DeKalb County Police Department and can be contacted by email at jwberg@dekalbcountyga.gov or by phone at (678) 597-9040.

Throughout their careers, those who work in law enforcement are often faced with difficult and disturbing situations. These incidents can range from responding to chaotic vehicle accidents involving multiple cars and injured drivers to mediating incidents of domestic violence (see February’s “On the Beat” article for more on this topic). Although police officers are required to make tough decisions, we all know this when we take the job and understand the importance in making well-reasoned decisions during stressful times.

However, most of us in law enforcement also appreciate having opportunities to engage with people on a more informal – and less stressful – basis. Fortunately, I’ve met many City of Tucker residents over the years who have asked me how they can become more involved with our department both in direct, tangible ways or simply by gaining a better understanding of what we do every day.

For our younger residents, the DeKalb County Police Department has established programs that engage these emerging citizens in positive ways. We have a very strong chapter of the nationwide Police Athletic League (“PAL”) Plus program. Working through an established 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (www.dekalbcountypalplus.org), several of our most compassionate officers are dedicated to managing youth mentorship programs, summer camps, teen festivals and other events that help build bridges with the impressionable youth in our community. Many of the youth reached through these programs move on to join our Police Explorers program (ages 14-21) and, as they become young adults, these participants occasionally join us as recruits (age 20+) in our highly-regarded training academy based in Lithonia.

Just prior to the worldwide COVID crisis, we also had a blossoming Volunteers in Policing (VIP) program. After getting background checked and trained, these adult volunteers partnered with us in various areas throughout the Department. From working at our lobby screening desks to helping with special events such as the popular Beat the Badge 5K Road Race, our officers enjoyed working together with these enthusiastic citizens. In addition, through the years we also have held several popular “Citizen Academies”, including a virtual academy in 2021. The attendees at this months-long training course are presented with a deep dive into various aspects of our Department, from how our detectives work to solve a crime to courses in self-defense and firearm safety.

While some of these programs have been put on hold because of the pandemic, one very important aspect of what we do continues: recruiting new officers. As I’ve mentioned before, police departments nationwide are overworked and short-staffed based on factors too numerous to list. Despite these challenges, we are constantly hiring dedicated individuals to join us. Among the qualifications to become a DeKalb County Police officer include the need be in good physical health, have no felony or domestic violence convictions, be a U.S. citizen, and possess a strong desire to help your fellow citizens. One interesting note is that, while the minimum age to be a law enforcement officer is 20, there is no upper age limit to join our academy. We have had several excellent recruits in their 40s and, yes, an occasional recruit in their 50s!

As we slowly but surely come out of this pandemic, the good news is that our department is working towards re-establishing many of these programs, including several in-person opportunities to work side by side with us. If any of the above programs are of interest to you, please reach out to our friendly Public Education Specialist at Tucker Precinct, Donna Mann at (678) 937-5339 or at dsmann@dekalbcountyga.gov.

I will warn you to be ready for Mrs. Mann to ask you one big question: “How about joining our department full-time?”

Georgia Laws to Know in 2022

O.C.G.A. 16-5-20 Simple Assault. The law reads in part:

“A person commits the offense of simple assault when he or she either (1) attempts to commit a violent injury to the person of another; or (2) commits an act which places another in reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving a violent injury…”

NOTE: This law differs from Simple Battery in that no actual physical contact with the victim is needed. What can be up for some interpretation is the definition of the words “reasonable apprehension” and “immediately”. Regardless of the definition, I encourage you to contact law enforcement if you believe you have been assaulted, whether physically or otherwise.


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