Accreditation is the “framework” that helps a law enforcement agency achieve a more professional structure, Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic said. His office recently learned it measures up to rigid national standards.
“It’s very exciting. When I first came in here, it was a good agency, but I wanted to raise the level of professionalism,” Cronic said. “It’s a great process ... I think it’s one of the best tools in law enforcement management to get your agency where it needs to be.”
The Hall County Sheriff’s Office secured its national accreditation for the third consecutive time this week in Bethesda, Md.
Cronic led a delegation of deputies to the agency review conference and banquet hosted by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
Assessors with independent accrediting body had visited the department over several days in December as part of its look at the inner workings of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office. Policies and procedures were studied. Compliance with hundreds of law enforcement standards were scrutinized.
Hall deputies were ready. Cronic had invited a mock assessment two months earlier and asked them to “really beat us up,” he said.
Comments were positive, including this statement from out-of-state officers tasked with reviewing the Hall law agency:
“Overall, the department and its members were found to be professional, mission driven, and dedicated to serving the citizens and visitors of Hall County, Georgia.”
Cronic gave credit to his deputies who remain dedicated despite ongoing furloughs, which have added pressure on the force for nearly three years.
“The men and women in the department are who made it happen,” Cronic said. “We’re doing this during difficult circumstances. We’re losing about 48,000 man hours a year to the furloughs. Everyone is doing what they have to do.”
Hall County becomes only the seventh sheriff’s office in the state to acquire both state and national certification. It first cleared CALEA’s stringent requirements in 2004 and again in 2007.
What the recent nod means more than anything is pressure, Cronic said.
As part of the banquet, he watched departments celebrate being accredited for the first time.
But keeping the CALEA designation is just as difficult to achieve, he said.
“The pressure is on,” Cronic added. “(Reaccreditation) keeps you true to the process. Certification is something you do for your citizens to ensure the agency is functioning the way it should.”