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FCSO receives flagship honor
Sheriff: Award is 'best you can get'
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Forsyth County News
The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office has been chosen to set an example for others nationwide and beyond.

The agency recently received the Flagship Award from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA. It is the first in the state to achieve the honor.

According to a letter from Sylvester Daughtry Jr., CALEA’s executive director, a flagship agency “represents an extraordinary example of excellence in public safety and it is recognized as a potential resource for future and current CALEA clients.”

Sheriff Ted Paxton said the award is an honor.

“It just continues to personify the dedication that everybody at the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office has to provide the most professional and efficient law enforcement product that we can for the community here,” he said.

“We are going to continue to strive to remain at that level because by being awarded a flagship designation, that’s the best you can get.”

The commission reviews agencies every three years.

The sheriff’s office was first accredited in 2003. It was reaccredited in 2006 and again this year.

Lt. Col. Dennis Nelson, commander of the sheriff’s headquarters bureau, said the award is a reflection on employees.

“We’re recognized throughout the nation and internationally,” he said. “A lot of people have worked very, very hard to bring us to the top ... Our people think accreditation every day and they’re very proud of the seal on the side of the patrol cars.”

He said the accreditation process is voluntary and agencies that don’t seek it expose themselves to a higher risk of liability.

“Accredited agencies have much less litigation,” Nelson said.

Jim Lockwood, accreditation manager, explained that in August the commission sent a team of representatives from out-of-state agencies to inspect the sheriff’s office’s policies and procedures as part of the reaccreditation process.

The on-site review lasted about four days and included operations, personnel, promotions, hiring, recruitment, internal affairs, complaints and court security.

“It’s basically everything an agency does with the exception of the jail,” said Lockwood, adding that the detention center is reviewed through a different accreditation process.

The three-member panel interviewed employees and sought public opinion about the sheriff’s office.

Agencies also must keep a file on each of the commission’s 463 standards and show not only policies and procedures, but proof that they are being followed.

During their visit, the representatives reviewed each of the sheriff’s office’s files. Nelson said the commission asked for extra documentation in two areas, requests that were quickly filled.

The team also took into consideration liability issues such as how evidence is handled and use of force, which includes firearms, pepper spray and batons.

“It’s important to us as managers that we do those things correctly,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Col. Gene Moss. “That’s why we want to be an accredited agency.”

Moss said the department will strive to maintain its accreditation and flagship status.

Lockwood began preparing for the next review as soon as the panel left in August.

He said the commission’s standards change occasionally and agencies must adapt to keep their policies and procedures updated.

The sheriff’s office is one of seven accredited law enforcement entities in the state.

According to its assessment, the team recommended a new adult detention center and centralized command facility for the local agency.

It also commended the sheriff’s office for various practices including employee training, community relations and law enforcement.