FORSYTH COUNTY -- The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office was once again awarded certification from the State of Georgia Law Enforcement Certification Program.
Certification lasts for three years, and this is the fourth time the sheriff’s office’s has been awarded. They are one of just 124 certified departments in the state, which has more than 600 law enforcement agencies, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
“As a [law enforcement] agency, we are accountable to the citizens,” Lt. Gregg Boyer said. “One way to ensure that is through this program.”
The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police website describes certification as “a progressive and time-proven way of helping law enforcement agencies calculate and improve their overall performances. The foundation of certification lies in the promulgation of standards containing a clear statement of professional objectives.”
Unlike other programs, this one is not state-mandated. Agencies choosing to participate must take the initiative to contact the program director and request an application. The fee is $375.
The sheriff’s office announced in August 2015 it withdrew from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, a national accreditation program run by a private organization, but that it would continue to obtain performance standards on the state level and that no lapse in public safety delivered to residents resulted.
The agency first applied to the state program more than 10 years ago, when Ted Paxton was sheriff, Boyer said.
The department has reapplied and been accredited ever since.
Obtaining certification begins internally, with each agency creating a policy development plan to meet the standards of the program.
Once the agency feels it has met the certification requirements, the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police designates a team of law enforcement officers to assess the department and determine whether it qualifies.
The assessing officers then prepare a detailed summary for review by the Joint Review Committee, which ultimately decides whether certification will be granted.
If an agency is awarded certification, it must continue to file annual reports “attesting to [its] continuing compliance and identify any instances of significant non-compliance,” the program’s website said.
While the process is extensive and time-consuming, Boyer, the sheriff’s office certification manager, said he sees it as essential.
“[Certification] shows that we are successful, productive and get the job done for the citizens,” said Boyer, who was recognized for his efforts during the process in a social media post online. “The reputation that goes with this certification lends some confidence not only to citizens, but our officers, too.”
This accreditation status will last through July 2019, after which the sheriff’s office will have the option to reapply.