WHAT IS ACCREDITATION?
Accreditation is the certification by an independent reviewing authority that an entity has met specific requirements and prescribed standards. It requires an in depth review of every aspect of the agency’s organization, management, operations, and administration. Hospitals and colleges are some of the other organizations that maintain accreditation. It is a voluntary process that affirms an agency’s commitment to the highest standards of professionalism and service. Each accrediting body has fixed standards that an agency must initially demonstrate compliance with, and then demonstrate continuing adherence to, in order to achieve re-accreditation.
Accreditation standards address key areas such as: organization management and administration, personnel administration, law enforcement operations, training, forensic examination, and inmate and court-related services. Accreditation typically includes an extensive review of an agency’s policies, procedures and protocols as well as an on-site inspection and interviews with key personnel.
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office is currently accredited by seven independent, accrediting bodies:
- Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA)
- Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission (FCAC)
- Public Safety Communications Accreditation (CALEA)
- National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC)
- International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED)
- International Association for Property and Evidence (IAPE)
- American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA)
Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA)
The commission was created in 1993 under the auspices of the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Florida Police Chiefs Association to address law enforcement management and community service issues relative to the State of Florida. In 1996, the Sheriff's Office became one of the first agencies in the state to achieve law enforcement accreditation through the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA) and has successfully achieved reaccreditation every three years. The Sheriff’s Office obtained Excelsior status in 2011.
Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission (FCAC)
In July 1997, during the Florida Sheriff's Association (FSA) meeting in Naples, Florida, a sub-committee was formed by the Florida Model Jail Standards (FMJS) Committee to develop an independent, voluntary corrections accreditation program. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Correctional Facility was first in the state to complete the process and become accredited by the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission (FCAC) in 1998, and has successfully been reaccredited every three years since that time. This program evaluates corrections operations against the Commission's strict standards, a process that helps agency staff identify and remedy deficiencies while upgrading the overall quality of correctional programs and services. The facility obtained Excelsior status in 2012. Currently, there are 248 standards addressing all aspects of corrections services including admission, classification, housing, security and training.
The Excelsior Recognition is awarded to Florida criminal justice agencies which have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the Florida accreditation process and is based upon two key benchmarks:
- Commitment to Accreditation - Candidate agencies shall have been awarded five successful reaccreditation cycles by the Commission; and
- Excellence in Accreditation - A candidate agency’s reaccreditation interval shall only be credited toward this new recognition status if conditions were not assessed by the Commission.
For more information on the CFA and FCAC accreditation process and to view the current standards you may visit the Florida Accreditation Office (FAO) web page at www.flaccreditation.org.
Public Safety Communications Accreditation (CALEA)
The Communications Center was initially accredited by CALEA’s Public Safety Communications Program in 2002 and has successfully been reaccredited every three years since that time. The national CALEA Public Safety Communications Accreditation Program provides a communications center, or the communications unit of a public safety agency, with a process to systemically review and internally assess its operations and procedures. The standards set forth by the Public Safety Accreditation program prepares dispatchers and call takers to be ready for any type of incident. For more information on the CALEA Public Safety Communications accreditation process, visit www.calea.org. CALEA standards are proprietary information and cannot be viewed on their site, however a printed copy of the standards may be reviewed upon request at the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office front desk (photocopying is prohibited).
National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC)
On August 26, 2005, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office correctional facility's medical services were accredited by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC). Health service accreditation promotes a well-managed system of care to ensure incarcerated persons receive routine health care, treatment and disease prevention. The commission's standards were developed by experts from the health, law and corrections professions. The facility’s medical services were reaccredited in 2008, 2012, and 2015.
International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED)
The IAED is a non-profit standard-setting organization promoting safe and effective emergency dispatch services world-wide. Comprised of three allied Academies for medical, fire and police dispatching, the IAED supports first-responder related research, unified protocol application, legislation for emergency call center regulation, and strengthening the emergency dispatch community through education, certification, and accreditation. The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Emergency Operations Bureau/Public Safety Communications Center (PSCC) is currently accredited by the IAED in both Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) and Emergency Fire Dispatch (EFD). The PSCC was initially accredited in EMD in 2004 and EFD in 2009 and has successfully received reaccreditation in both every three years.
BENEFITS OF ACCREDITATION
To the Community:
- Accreditation increases the law enforcement agency's ability to prevent and control crime through more effective and efficient delivery of law enforcement services to the community it serves.
- Accreditation enhances community understanding of the law enforcement agency and its role in the community as well as its goals and objectives. Citizen confidence in the policies and practices of the agency is increased.
- Accreditation, in conjunction with the philosophy of rightful policing, commits the agency to a broad range of programs (such as crime prevention) that directly benefit the public.
- Accreditation creates a forum in which police and citizens work together to control and prevent crime. This partnership will help citizens to understand the challenges that confront law enforcement. Law enforcement will, in turn, receive clear direction from the community about its expectations; thus a common set of goals and objectives will be arrived at and implemented.
To the Sheriff:
- Increases cooperation and coordination with other law enforcement agencies and other branches of the criminal justice system.
- The accreditation process requires an in-depth review of every aspect of the agency's organization, operations, and administration to include:
- establishment of agency goals and objectives with provisions for periodic updating;
- re-evaluation of whether agency resources are being used in accord with agency goals, objectives, and mission;
- re-evaluation of agency policies and procedures, especially as documented in the agency's written directive system;
- correction of internal deficiencies and inefficiencies before they become public problems;
- the opportunity to re-organize without the appearance of personal attacks.
- The accreditation standards provide norms against which agency performance can be measured and monitored over time.
- Accreditation provides the agency with a continuous flow of Commission distributed information about exemplary policies, procedures, and projects.
- Accreditation provides objective measures to justify decisions related to budget requests and personnel policies.
- Accreditation serves as a yardstick to measure the effectiveness of the agency's programs and services. The services provided are defined, and uniformity of service is assured.
- Accreditation streamlines operations, providing more consistency and more effective deployment of agency manpower.
To the Members:
- Accreditation requires that agency policies and procedures are in written form and are available to all agency personnel at all times.
- Accreditation assures employees that every aspect of the agency's personnel system is in accord with professional standards, and that the system is both fair and equitable.
- The agency is compelled to operate within specific guidelines. It is accountable to the Commission. The agency must stay in compliance with the standards set forth by the Commission in order to retain its accreditation.
- The morale of the agency is enhanced by increasing the employees' confidence in the effectiveness and efficiency of their own agency. Operations become more streamlined and consistent.
- Accreditation policies address officer safety issues and provide for adequate training and equipment of the officers.
- Accreditation is a coveted award that symbolizes professionalism, excellence, and competence. Employees will take pride in their agency, knowing that it represents the very best in law enforcement, corrections, and communications.
Law Enforcement Accreditation Manager
Communications Accreditation Manager
Corrections Accreditation Manager