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Georgia law enforcement leader who helped train more than 1,000 officers has died

Archie Rainey, a law enforcement leader and teacher for decades who helped train more than 1,000 police executives through the college he started in Columbus, has died.

Rainey founded the Georgia Law Enforcement Command College at Columbus State University in 1995 and served as director until 2016.

He died Monday at the age of 82, according to Striffler-Hamby Mortuary. The cause and location of his death weren’t available before publication.

Visitation was scheduled for 3-4 p.m. May 12, followed by the memorial service, both at Striffler-Hamby, 4071 Macon Road, in Columbus.

Upon receiving a Meritorious Service Award from the Peace Officers Association of Georgia, a 2013 resolution of commendation adopted by the Georgia House of Representations describes the impact Rainey made on the state.

“No single person in this state has been more involved in creating a contingent pool of contemporary law enforcement executives ready to meet those challenges than Dr. Archie Rainey,” the resolution says.

After serving in the U.S. Army, Rainey worked as a police officer and a highway patrolman in Tennessee. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee and his doctorate from the Union Graduate School.

Rainey was recruited to Georgia in the early 1970s by CSU (called Columbus College at the time) and then-Columbus Police Chief Curtis McClung. During the next 21 years, Rainey was an instructor in CSU’s criminal justice program.

In 1995, the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police asked Rainey to develop the idea that became the Command College to provide advanced education for police executives statewide, “a challenge he eagerly accepted,” the resolution says.

Rainey created a curriculum that offered graduate-level studies certified by the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council. Through the Command College, graduates earned a master’s degree in public administration.

During his two decades directing the college, nearly 60 cohorts totaling more than 1,000 students completed the requirements — and nearly 200 of those graduates became agency leaders in Georgia law enforcement or corrections.

As a result, the college attained the status of being “a national model” for law enforcement executive education, the resolution says.

Also in 2013, the Georgia Senate passed a similar resolution honoring Rainey.

“Dr. Rainey is a true example of a man committed to serving his community,” state Sen. Ed Harbison (D-Columbus) said in a news release then. “His time at Columbus State University has produced numerous law enforcement officials with invaluable skills that make Georgia a safer place. Dr. Rainey is a pillar of our community and I cannot think of an individual more deserving of this distinguished award.”

Rus Drew, who was CSU police chief from 2006-16, told the Ledger-Enquirer in an email that he doesn’t know the cause and location of Rainey’s death, but “he had been in poor health for several years.”

Drew relied on Rainey for advice.

“Many mornings it was part of my routine to drop by Command College and get my daily dose of Archie analysis on current events and trends in public safety, with suggested strategies for improvement,” Drew said.

And he wasn’t the only one seeking Rainey’s counsel.

“Frequently I was met with a line of other public safety agency heads from around the state, either on the phone or in the office seeking out those strategies and solutions to often complex issues,” Drew said.

Drew described Rainey as patient, a great listener and thoughtful, delivering candid advice on target.

“Whether that was the answer you wanted to hear or not, he pushed for the most holistic solution,” Drew said. “Solutions that were deeply rooted in the data he researched as a criminal justice academician as well as the experiences as a policing practitioner.”

Drew also praised Rainey for being “an outspoken proponent of higher education standards for law enforcement and did more to increase the number of officers with bachelor’s and master’s degrees than anyone I’ve known in my 40-year law enforcement career.

“Archie will be deeply missed, but his legacy lives on in the Command College graduates who lead public safety efforts across this state with the same quest for knowledge and a hardworking commitment to service.”