By the time Glynn County Police Chief Jacques Battiste got to the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth on Monday morning, he was well versed on the center’s physical agility course.
Battiste, 56, had traversed the course twice already, then encountered it throughout fitful dreams during what little sleep he managed the night before. For all that, Battiste sounded quite refreshed later Monday on the drive home after having passed this important portion of the Georgia Peace Officer’s Standards and Training certification process (POST).
“I feel like someone has just lifted a 500-pound anvil off of my shoulders,” Battiste told The News. “I can actually breath again. I got maybe an hour’s sleep last night. Every time I closed my eyes all I could see was this obstacle course.”
It was Battiste’s third attempt to pass the state’s POST certification physical agility test. It would have marked the 22-year FBI veteran’s last opportunity to pass the course this year. Failure would have prevented him from pursuing the remainder of his POST certification requirements.
Set on a basketball half-court, the obstacle course in Forsyth includes numerous laps, some hurdles, negotiating a flight of stairs, a leap across a ditch, climbing through a window and dragging a 150-pound dummy some 20 feet, among other things. It must be completed 2 minutes and 6 seconds to pass.
Battiste completed is Monday in 1 minute, 56 seconds.
The Glynn County Commission chose Battiste as the new county police chief in June from among numerous candidates following an extensive search conducted by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.
Battiste assumed command of the police department on July 7 with the understanding that he would become a POST-certified law enforcement officer in Georgia within a year. A swearing-in ceremony planned for Battiste on July 15 had to be cancelled at the last hour when it was discovered he must first complete the POST certification.
Battiste said he now ready to complete the state’s 11-week law enforcement academy, which includes everything from firearms proficiency to training scenarios.
“In order to maintain the role that I’ve been chosen for, I’m ready to do this,” Battiste said. “Not because it’s fun, but because it’s what needs to be done in order to meet the commitment to excellence this department deserves and has earned.”
Battiste retired from a 22-year with the FBI in Washington, D.C., and Quantico, Va., serving roles that included counterterrorism and as a bomb squad supervisory agent. In 2018, he began a year-long stint as campus police chief with his alma mater, Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans.
“Because of my federal law enforcement experience, Louisiana waived my post certification, as they do with anyone who is hired as a chief of police,” Battiste said.
In 2019, Battiste moved to the Orleans Parish Constable’s Office, having never received a Louisiana state law enforcement certification due to his previous federal law enforcement experience.
He was serving as the Orleans Parsh department’s training and tactical coordinator before coming to Glynn County.
Battiste’s federal law enforcement certificate would have sufficed to certify him in Georgia had it been active within 3 years of his coming here, according to a Glynn County Police statement issued late Monday afternoon. But Battiste retried from the FBI in 2017.
The physical agility test requirement was added to the Georgia’s POST certification process on Jan. 1 of this year.
After coming up short on his first try at passing the physical agility test shortly after assuming his new command, Battiste began training with the department’s recruits, he said. After missing the mark again on Wednesday, he spent Thursday and Friday training on a mockup course in Savannah with support from folks at the city’s police department and the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.
Battiste and a Chatham Sheriff’s Office recruit who had both failed the course the last time nailed it together this time, Battiste said.
“That young man (from Chatham) ran with me and we both passed,” Battiste said. “When they saw the struggle I had last week, they invited me to come up to Chatham. I have never seen a better level of cooperation, and for just one person. They actually went through these extremes to ensure that someone could maintain the helm of this department.”
He also thanked a host of folks from the Glynn County Police Department for their assistance, including detectives Stephen Parker and Christopher Lowther, sergeants Sheila Ramos and Brad Butler, recruits Lorraine Sanchez and Murphy McMillen, Lt. Brandon Gregory and administrative assistant Stephanie Colon.
Battiste is presently serving in an administrative capacity only over the department of more than 100 sworn officers. Battiste earns $128,000 annually.