According to the trial court's findings of fact, defendant Alfonso Hagin was hired in May 1986 by plaintiff City of Pembroke as a police officer. By law, a peace officer, in order to exercise the authority to make arrests, must, among other things, complete a basic training course established by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards & Training Council within twelve months of the date of his appointment as a peace officer. See OCGA 35-8-9
(a). In order to fulfill this requirement, the City of Pembroke sent officer Hagin to the Police Officer's Service Training Academy during January and February 1987. Before attending the academy, the police chief presented Officer Hagin with a one-page agreement which he was told he must sign in order to continue his employment. By the terms of the document, the City agreed to pay the costs of training on the condition that the officer remain employed by the City for a period not less than twelve months after graduation from the program. By signing the agreement, the officer promised to repay the City the sum of $1,800 representing "a portion of the total expense of the Police Officer's attending the [training program]" in the event he voluntarily terminated his employment before the twelve-month period expired. Officer Hagin voluntarily resigned from employment by the City in August 1987 and, apparently, accepted employment with another law enforcement agency. The City brought suit to recover the $1,800 owed under the written agreement. The trial court granted judgment to defendant on the ground that the contract contravened the public policy of Georgia by shifting the expense of minimum training requirements for a peace officer from the law enforcement agency to the individual officer. The City appeals.
Porubiansky v. Emory Univ., 156 Ga. App. 602, 603 (275 SE2d 163) (1980).
We cannot conclude that the agreement in question is contrary to the express or implied purpose of the statutes addressing minimum training requirements for Georgia peace officers. The applicable statutes set forth the minimum standards for employment and minimum training for individual peace officers. E.g., OCGA 35-8-9
. OCGA 35-8-17
authorizes the Georgia Peace Officers Standards & Training Council to bring a civil action against an individual officer who does not comply with the certification requirements (subsection b) as well as against the law enforcement unit employing such an officer (subsection c). We find no intent by the legislature in the applicable code sections to impose the financial burden of training a peace officer solely upon the law enforcement unit employing him. We note that pursuant to OCGA 35-8-7
(20) the Georgia Peace Officer Standards & Training Council may reimburse counties and municipalities for the costs of sending officers to a peace officer training program. A county or municipality is not required to train each officer but may chose to hire individuals who have already met the statutory certification requirements.
We conclude that the agreement at issue in this case is reasonably related to the City's interest in protecting its investment in training a new officer. In order to avoid the requirement of paying the amount specified in the agreement, the officer could simply have remained in his employment for twelve months. We hold the trial court erred in finding the agreement void for public policy reasons.
2. Because the trial court's findings of fact show that the defendant entered into the agreement and left his employment before the twelve-month period had expired, plaintiff City of Pembroke is entitled to judgment in its favor.
Lloyd D. Murray, for appellee.