MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - The Madison County Sheriff's Office is looking to earn a coveted, prestigious accreditation and there's a team of assessors in town looking at all aspects of the agency.
The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) is examining the department's policies, procedures, management, operations, and support services.
It's a voluntary, lengthy process for agencies to get the highly prized recognition for public safety excellence.
The Sheriff's Office has to comply with 189 standards in order to gain accredited status.
"It means that we will be operating under these 189 standards which develop best practices and those best practices come from across the nation and across the world. CALEA is international," explained Lt. Donny Shaw, the public information officer.
Gregg Jones, CALEA Assessor, says the agency has worked extensively for several years to get the accreditation.
"They've made changes that they see will benefit the agency and the community they serve," Jones added. "They've already demonstrated compliance through documentation and some online processes that they go through. We're here to verify that they've done those in person and meet people in the community- businesses, partners, neighborhoods, fellow agencies and officers and how they interact with them and how that relates to the standards."
Accreditation is for three years, during which the agency must submit annual reports attesting continued compliance with those standards under which it was initially accredited.
CALEA is a nationally recognized set of standards that have been adopted by agencies around the country that help in professionalism, leadership, research management and service delivery.
"We look holistically at the agency and their practices and adherence to standards. That's part of our visit here that we get to see more than what's just on paper or headlines in the media. We get to interact with those folks and have the opportunity to discuss a variety of things," Jones stated.
The sheriff's office has been working for three years to get on-site assessment by CALEA.
"You want to have the most professional law enforcement agency that you can in order to provide services to you and your family and your neighbors and that's what we're striving to do through these policies and procedures and these standards that we have developed out of this," Lt. Shaw said.
Information on the Madison County sheriff's office will be presented to the CALEA commission at their next conference at the end of July to determine if the agency will gain accreditation.
There are agencies 800 agencies internationally that are accredited by CALEA.
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