After two years in Gainesville, Daniel Duvall is here to stay.
Duvall moved to Gainesville two years ago, and he told independent assessors Monday that because of the professionalism of the Gainesville Police Department and other city departments, Gainesville will be his "final hometown."
"I’ve lived in a lot of different communities throughout the country, and I didn’t really choose Gainesville, Georgia, to be my retirement home," Duvall said. "...But I’m very glad that (my wife) found Gainesville, Georgia, because I’ve been very impressed with the professionalism of all of the city departments, particularly the police department."
Duvall said he has attended the Gainesville Citizens Academy as well as the Gainesville Business Police Academy, and found the local police department does "a magnificent job of making you feel welcome."
Duvall was one of many people, including past and present city managers, various city department heads, local judges and City Council members, who asked that the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies renew the Gainesville Police Department’s national accreditation at a public hearing on the issue Monday.
But one resident, Ignacio Rodriguez, said he would like to see the department work together with the Latino community. Rodriguez told the panel that local law enforcement spends more time searching out Latinos who drive without a license than it does tackling drug dealers.
"All the time, police not looking for big dealers selling drugs," Rodriguez said. "Police looking (on) Atlanta Highway all the time for Latinos, Latinos, Latinos. And that’s no good."
That approach to law enforcement has resulted in Latino residents who are afraid to report crimes because of their own legal status, Rodriguez said.
"They’re afraid they might get deported or something like that," said Rodriguez’s son, Ignacio Garcia, who helped translate for his father.
Garcia later told the panel that he would like to see the department recruit more Latino officers. It is an issue Jason Moen, one of the representatives of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, also addressed. Moen told Garcia that, as part of his review of the department, Moen had found that the Gainesville Police Department is "trying diligently" to increase its number of Latino officers.
Independent assessors like Moen have been in town since Saturday from Maine, Texas and Illinois scrutinizing every aspect of the Gainesville department’s operations and how well it complies with more than 400 written standards. The Gainesville Police Department was first accredited by CALEA in 1991 and has been re-accredited five times since.
Law enforcement agencies that win national accreditation are up for re-assessments by CALEA every three years. During its last re-accreditation, the department won "flagship designation," which is reserved for agencies that go above and beyond the required standards.