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Sheriff's Office receives state accreditation for standards and policies

by: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Clackamas County Sheriffs Office K-9 officers train with their dogs. The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office announced last week it has recently completed an accreditation process through the Oregon Accreditation Alliance.

Accreditation is a process that involves independent verification of established standards by an outside organization comprised of professionals and peers. It is a voluntary step that many law enforcement agencies have undertaken to enhance public trust, allow them to qualify for certain grant funding and reduce the chance of legal liability.

The CCSO began the process in 2005, when it formally joined the Oregon Accreditation Alliance. Overall, accreditation is a relatively new process for law enforcement, having started in 1983, when the New York State Sheriffs’ Association became the first law enforcement organization in the country to develop an accreditation program.

The Oregon Accreditation Alliance (OAA) was formed in 2000 and is now one of 26 state law enforcement accrediting bodies in the United States.

“The advantages of accreditation are enormous,” CCSO Sheriff Craig Roberts said in a press release. “When I first took office, I made a commitment to do this. The process inspired us to take a careful look at our existing policies and procedures. This process alone was incredible for our long-term health as an agency. Beyond that, it builds public trust. It also provides other long-term advantages: Just for example, some grants require you to be accredited. We’ve really raised our standard with this process.”

CCSO Policy Analyst Andrew Gale helped spearhead the accreditation process, which covers 102 different standards surrounding ethics and police procedures.

According to CCSO Sheriff Craig Roberts, his agency cross-referenced its policy manual with OAA standards, which led to an entire rewrite of that manual.

“Accreditation doesn’t just prove compliance,” he said, “it establishes a dynamic process of internal communication and improvement. The very process of seeking accreditation enhances the agency by prompting an internal review of its basic operations.”

Clackamas County Commissioners recognized the agency’s achievement May 22, when Ed Boyd, executive director of OAA, presented Roberts with an official certificate of accreditation.

“Accreditation means that an agency, their operations, their management, their policies and procedures meet the best practices the industry has to offer,” Boyd said. “The accreditation process in general is a progressive and contemporary way of helping law-enforcement agencies evaluate and improve their overall performance, and provides formal and professional recognition that an organization meets or exceeds best-practice expectations of service and quality in the profession.”

Boyd said that roughly 32 percent of Oregon law-enforcement agencies are currently involved in the OAA program. Around 20 of those agencies are fully accredited.

“So you’re still talking about a very select group of agencies in the state,” he said.

For more information visit the Oregon Accreditation Alliance website, oracall.org.



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