St. Mary's County Sheriff's Dept. Accredidation Timeline and Update

June of 2003Vision of an Accredited Agency - Sheriff David D. Zylak released a media release regarding his goal and objective for the Office of the Sheriff to become accredited with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) and a bulletin which outlined the accreditation process. The release further conveyed “the accreditation process will virtually touch every aspect of this agencies operation. What I readily envision for this agency is a clearly defined mission statement, an updated St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office Administrative and Patrol Manual, organization and administration of the agency and the application of basic organizational principles, such as organizing by function, ensuring unity of command, delineating responsibility, and delegating authority, fair and uniform disciplinary procedures, and training and career development.”

September of 2003Positive Affects – The CALEA Bulletin was re-named to the ACCREDIGRAM. Without a doubt one of the most positive affects accreditation will have on our agency will be our relationship with our community. Our community will be asked to take an active role in our accreditation process. This contributes to community confidence and their support.

January of 2004Cutting Edge - Not every agency is in the position or willing to undertake the thorough self-evaluation of the CALEA accreditation process demands. The agencies that have been successful in the process are indeed the leaders on the cutting edge of issues facing law enforcement. Some agencies are testing the waters and eventually the leaders of those agencies will make a lasting commitment to accountability to the community.

April of 2004 – The Unwritten Standard: Peace of Mind – In most instances, neither the officer nor the command will know if a standard-related action, such as immediate playback of emergency radio traffic, will result in a measurable benefit. It becomes impossible to know how many injurious incidents may have occurred without standard-related policies and procedures in place. We do know that officers are on traffic details without being injured. We do know that standards are provided to prosecutors and convictions are obtained. We do know that use-of-force incidents are analyzed by training experts. We do know that immediate playback is used. Both officers and command have the comfort that comes from knowing that training and practices reflect professional standards. PEACE OF MIND.

July of 2004“Policy” Versus “Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)” - The biggest difference between a Policy and a SOP is a SOP details procedure(s) specific to an individual, a division, or a component within a particular function, not the entire department. SOPs eliminate the need to create formal, department-wide policies that do not apply to 95% of the people receiving it. In a sense SOPs are "mini-manuals." You only need to read it if you are going to do it!

October of 2004Risk Management - One of the best defenses against civil lawsuits brought against a law enforcement agency, is that the agency was acting properly, in accordance with established, written policies that meet CALEA standards that the agency was reviewed by an independent, outside team of CALEA-trained assessors, and has been accredited by CALEA.

January of 2005Community Involvement - Law enforcement agencies should establish direct contacts with the community served. Well organized community relations can be an effective means of eliciting public support, can serve to identify problems in the making, and may foster cooperative efforts in resolving community issues. Input from the community can also help ensure that agency policies accurately reflect the needs of the community.

April of 2005Update Self-Assessment Phase - One of the first assignments of the Strategic Management Plan Core Team Committee was to review the agency’s mission statement. After a great deal of thought, the revised mission statement is “The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office endeavors to provide the highest quality service through respect, integrity and professionalism.”

July of 2005A Team Approach to Accreditation - Because the review and rewrite of agency policies is to say the least a daunting task, a team approach was adopted to not only ensure CALEA compliance with standards but to ensure the agency is operating with current policy and standard operating procedures to reduce risk and liability for both agency personnel and the citizens of St. Mary’s County.

Where We Are And What We Are Doing in the Process
The Self-Assessment Phase of the accreditation process is making steady progress as the Accreditation Team continues to review and re-write agency policy and prepare for the mock assessment in the Spring of 2006.

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