The Hall County Sheriff’s Office has been given a second stamp of approval from the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies.
Three years after the sheriff’s office became nationally accredited, CALEA reaccredited the office along with seven other law enforcement agencies Saturday at a conference in Atlanta.
"We’re really tickled to death," said Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic. "This is something that was accomplished by the entire department, everybody working together and working hard. I’m really proud of everyone around here."
CALEA is an independent body of commissioners that sets standards for law enforcement agencies across the country. The commission requires that its member agencies adopt more than 450 policies and procedures, covering everything from use of force and chase policies to hiring and promotional practices. Agencies submit to CALEA evaluations voluntarily.
After an on-site evaluation in December and an interview last weekend, CALEA determined that the Hall County Sheriff’s Office complies with 397 of the commission’s standards.
Cronic said the other standards were not applicable to the Hall County department because they are for programs and resources Hall does not have.
"We were in compliance with everything that applied to our department," Cronic said. "If you have an aviation unit, for instance, you have standards that apply to aviation, but if you don’t have an aviation unit then those standards don’t apply to your agency.
"That’s the difference in the total number that are available versus the ones that you’re required to comply with."
The Hall County Sheriff’s Office did well during its on-site evaluation, and there were some things that the commission found particularly noteworthy about the department, said Louis Dekmar, vice chairman of the commission.
The department had only one grievance filed against it in a three-year period, and about 40 members of the community praised the department to the commission during its evaluation in December.
Most notably, Hall County’s percentage of part one crimes — homicide, burglary, rape, vehicle theft, aggravated assault, larceny and arson — decreased by 30 percent from 2004 to 2006. And 40 percent of the complaints residents made against employees were sustained, which Dekmar says shows "an aggressive and objective internal review system."
"It demonstrates that the agency does something about it," Dekmar said. "All in all it was a very impressive report and not inconsistent with the high standards of the commission."
The panel voted unanimously in favor of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office’s reaccreditation after interviewing Cronic on Saturday.
"I have to admit that I was a little nervous starting out," Cronic said about the interview. "The first reaudit is really one of the toughest ones that you’ll undergo, because they come back and audit all your files and your processes to ensure that you’re in compliance with all the things that you had committed to."
The CALEA seal, and the reaccreditation plaque that will soon arrive in the mail, is testament to the men and women that serve in the Hall County department, Cronic said.
"That’s the verification that we are doing the kind of things that we committed to do," he said.