Blount County residents can expect to see more professionalism, better accountability, more efficiency and a more economical law enforcement agency this year.
On March 22nd the Blount Co. Sheriff’s Office will be presented with a three year Law Enforcement Accreditation which is administered by the Commission on the Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), a national accrediting organization since 1979.
Mr. Richard Ellis, who had just finished a like process with the Pigeon Forge Police Department, was brought on board approximately four years ago and is the Accreditation Manager. When asked about the process he said, “There is a set of standards and you prove that you are meeting them.”
There are currently 443 Standards under CALEA that have to be addressed. Each Standard indicates what needs to be done to comply. The Sheriff’s Office then determines how that compliance will be met.
Ellis says that it has been a two-year process to reach accreditation. Assessment was completed in December and they have already been confirmed as having been successful in meeting the required criteria. According to Ellis the first day of assessment starts with a “static display” where all the equipment (vehicles, firearms, uniforms, etc.) is expected to meet specified criteria of several standards. Ellis said that “he got goose bumps” seeing the display and the pride and professionalism that was exhibited by the personnel involved, and that “it set the tone for the four days the assessors were here.” He said, “One of the best parts of accreditation is that everyone is a part of it and is accountable. Being trained in, and meeting and following the Professional Standards creates accountability. An Office of Professional Standards has been created within the BCSO.” There is a strong performance evaluation system in place with monthly performance reports and full evaluations every six months.
Benefits to the public are more accountability, lower exposure to liability, enhanced training, required standardization of equipment, the creation of the recognition that Law Enforcement is a profession, and more economical maintenance.
Ellis said, “Things that we develop like the Blount County Sheriff’s Citizen’s Academy, Citizen’s Policing, community meetings…this is driven by accreditation to a certain extent because accreditation requires that you involve the community as much as you can in law enforcement.”
He said that they are working on accreditation for the Correctional Facilities, which should happen in 18 to 24 months and will be accredited by the American Correctional Association (ACA).
The key points of accreditation are to:
• Increase the capabilities of the Sheriff’s Office
to prevent and control crime
• Enhance the effectiveness and efficiency in the
delivery of law enforcement
• Improve cooperation and coordination with
other criminal justice agencies and components of the
criminal justice system
• Increase citizen and staff confidence in the
The major benefits of accreditation are:... read the rest of the story by Subscribing now.