Accreditation assessment team invites public comment

Special to GateHouse Media Florida

A team of assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc. (CALEA) will arrive Oct. 28 to examine all aspects of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office’s policy and procedures, management, operations, and support services, Sheriff Larry R. Ashley recently announced.

Verification by the team that the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office meets the commission’s state-of-the-art standards is part of a voluntary process to maintain accreditation — a highly prized recognition of public safety professional excellence.

As part of the assessment, agency personnel and members of the community are invited to offer comments at a public information session at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 29 in the OCSO Headquarters Training Room, 50 2nd Street in Shalimar. If for some reason an individual cannot speak at the public information session but would still like to provide comments to the assessment team, they may do so by telephone. The public may call 850-609-2005between the hours of 9 and 11 a.m. on Oct. 30. Telephone comments as well as appearances at the public information session are limited to 10 minutes and must address the agency’s ability to comply with CALEA Standards.

A copy of the standards is available for review at the OCSO Headquarters Building, 50 2nd Street, Shalimar. Local contact is Inspector Ron Kimble, 651-7410. Persons wishing to offer written comments about the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office’s ability to meet the standards for accreditation are requested to write: Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Inc. (CALEA), 13575 Heathcote Boulevard, Suite 320, Gainesville, VA 20155.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office has to comply with 417 standards in order to maintain accredited status, Ashley said. Accreditation is important to the agency and community because it validates the Sheriff’s Office’s ability to prevent and control crime through more effective and efficient delivery of law enforcement services to the community it serves. Accreditation is for four years, during which the agency must submit annual reports attesting continued compliance with those standards under which it was initially accredited.