The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office was recently honored with advanced accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
At a ceremony before the County Commission Sept. 19, Sheriff Ron Freeman was presented with a certificate acknowledging his office’s work to regain a status of professionalism and efficiency recognized throughout the country.
Sheriff Ron Freeman said his deputies and staff give him ample opportunities to brag, but the CALEA accreditation is something special.
“I’m very proud of the work these men and women have done,” Freeman said. “Not only did we get our basic accreditation back in record time… but we got our advanced accreditation back.”
CALEA accreditation, he said, serves as the gold standard for public safety agencies. The CALEA programs provide public safety agencies with an opportunity to voluntarily meet an established set of professional standards, which require comprehensive and uniform written directives that clearly define authority, performance and responsibilities. They provide reports and analyses to make fact-based and informed management decisions and prepare public safety agencies to address natural or man-made critical incidents.
The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office first became accredited through CALEA in 2003. It continued to meet standards for renewals until 2013 when it was dropped under former Sheriff Dwayne Piper.
Freeman launched an effort to regain accreditation as part of his election campaign in 2016. Basic accreditation was received in November of 2017. This is the first time Forsyth County has received CALEA’s advanced accreditation.
The process of obtaining CALEA accreditation begins with a rigorous self-assessment, requiring a review of policies, practices and processes against internationally accepted public safety standards, according to Cpt. Mark Flowers, policy/accreditation manager for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.
For each of the 439 standards, there are almost 1,500 additional items that need to be met, he said. Meticulous records are required to document that performance meets standards. Everything is then reviewed off site by independent assessors with significant public safety experience, such as retired law enforcement, police chiefs and retired supreme court justices.
‘It’s hard to get,” Flowers said. “You wouldn’t want your child to go to college that’s not accredited. You wouldn’t want to go to a hospital that’s not accredited, either. You want your law enforcement agency to be accredited.”
Each agency accredited by CALEA must maintain compliance files which are reviewed annually by compliance service managers.
CALEA assessors will visit the sheriff’s office again in four years to review the agency, its practices, policies and community programs. Once compliance is verified, the agency will receive advanced accreditation for another four-year term, Flowers said.
The Sheriff’s Office also received certification from the Georgia Chiefs of Police at the commissioner meeting.
Each agency certified through the Georgia Chiefs of Police Certification Program must maintain annual compliance files, according to Flowers.