Writer: Roger Nielsen
Patrick Hopp approaches his job as an Elbert County code enforcement officer with fairness and understanding, traits that blossomed through the Carl Vinson Institute of Government’s new advanced professional development training program. Those are essential skills in getting property owners to cooperate in resolving zoning, building code and property maintenance violations, he said.
“You have to be compassionate at this job, and that’s where this training helps you. It teaches you how to talk to individuals and to work with them,” Hopp said. “It helps on how to deal with employees—and our employees definitely are the citizens of Elbert County.”
Hopp and 10 other code officers from across Georgia were recently recognized as the first class to successfully complete the 75-hour advanced training that the Institute developed in partnership with the Georgia Association of Code Enforcement (GACE).
The Institute, which provides training and conferencing services for GACE, inaugurated the advanced certificate program in 2015 for code officers who aspire to supervisory positions. The new Level III curriculum offers 22 courses covering technical topics and effective leadership for veteran code officers, according to Marci Campbell, the Institute’s lead instructor in the GACE program. Code officers must successfully complete 90 hours of Level I and Level II training to be eligible.
“These officers are very committed to the profession and committed to professional development, and when they attend a Level III course I see an eagerness, an excitement among them,” Campbell said.
Lawrenceville Code Enforcement Supervisor Gregory Jacquet makes sure every code officer in the city’s Planning and Zoning Department attends GACE courses. “The program provides standardized training so that across the state of Georgia we’re all starting to do things systematically,” said Jacquet, who also earned his Level III certificate this spring.
The Institute has worked closely with GACE since it was founded in 1998, helping to create a certificate program that grew into today’s three-tiered professional development system. The program was championed by the late Anna Boling, an Institute faculty member who had a long working relationship with the organization. GACE will celebrate its 30th anniversary in September, when a second group of code officers will earn Level III certificates, according to Campbell.
In addition to Hopp and Jacquet, code officers who earned Level III certificates in the first cohort are Jonathan Barber, City of Roswell; Danny Bennett, City of Royston; Martha Ann Coe, Terrell County; Molly Drennen, City of Peachtree City; Randy Gordon, City of Statham; Timothy Maret, City of Peachtree City; Gail Newsome, McDuffie County; Timothy Shellnut, Coweta County; and Trinetta Skinner, City of Waynesboro.