Accreditation means for a person or organization to be officially recognized as having met a standard or criterion.
A standard is the principles or values that govern somebody's behavior. The level of quality or excellence attained by somebody or something and very widely used and generally regarded as authoritative.
A criterion is an accepted standard used in making decisions or judgments about something.
The Sumter County Sheriff's Office was originally accredited on May 22, 2002, and has since been re-accredited in 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2017. The Detention Center operated by the Sumter County Sheriff's Office has been accredited since 2000 and was reaccredited in 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2018. The Communications Center operated by the Sumter County Sheriff's Office has been accredited since 2013 and again in 2016 and most recently 2019. Once the agency is accredited it has to go through an inspection process every three years to be reaccredited.
Accreditation was designed to improve the ability of law enforcement agencies to deliver professional public safety services. By our agency earning an accredited status, the Sumter County Sheriff's Office Accreditation helps ensure that professional standards are either met or exceeded thus safeguarding the staff, the agency, and our community.
In 1993, the Florida Sheriff's Association was encouraged to create an independent voluntary law enforcement agency accreditation program. The movement by law enforcement professionals to create accrediting bodies is in response to a need to ensure the public that quality services are delivered in accordance with recognized and accepted standards.
The accreditation program that was developed was modeled after the national accreditation program, which requires compliance with more than 275 professional standards designed specifically for Florida law enforcement agencies. These standards are practical, easily understood, and achievable even for the smallest law enforcement agency. The program was designed with consideration for the following goals:
- To establish and maintain standards that represent current professional law enforcement practices;
- To increase effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of law enforcement services;
- To establish standards that address and reduce liability for the agency and its members;
- To establish standards that make an agency and its personnel accountable to the constituency they serve.
The Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA & FCAC) establishes standards, oversees the accreditation program, and awards accreditation to compliant Florida Law Enforcement agencies. The Florida Telecommunications Accreditation Commission (FLA-TAC) establishes standards, oversees an accreditation program, and awards accreditation to compliant Florida Communications Centers in the law enforcement, fire rescue and emergency medical services disciplines.
Each agency has an Accreditation Manager designated to direct and control the accreditation process in their agency. It is the accreditation manager’ responsibility for collecting the necessary documentation and preparing accreditation files. They are also responsible for ensuring that all documentation is completed according to the standards set by the CFA. This process is an ongoing and constantly evolving task.
Proving compliance with the required number of applicable standards is the agency's responsibility. The agency must compile proofs of compliance necessary for assessors to determine compliance. The agencies written directive system plays a big part in proving compliance. Therefore it is important that each employee receive, read and understand their agencies policies. Achieving compliance involves building files for each standard. The agency must comply with 100 percent of the applicable mandatory standards and with at least 80 percent of the applicable other-than-mandatory standards.
One of the Accreditation Manager's duties is to build a separate file folder for each standard. Each folder includes the standard being met along with any written directive and proofs required to be in compliance. Documentation collected throughout the agency is used as proofs in the accreditation files. This documentation consists of normal day to day duties of the Sumter County Sheriff's Office (some examples are: Use of Force Reports, Incident Reports, Uniform Traffic Citations, financial activities, personnel files, Arrest Affidavits, protective gear issuance, and officer training). In addition to agency policy and officer liability, accreditation is another reason why it is important for all paperwork to be filled out correctly at all times. It is the employee's supervisor's responsibility to ensure that this is done.
At the end of each three year period the agency will have an onsite inspection. Onsite inspections consist of the following format:
- An initial interview with the Sheriff
- An agency tour
- Review of accreditation files
- Personnel interviews
- Public information
- An exit interview
Interviews with agency personnel and observation of agency operations will also be used to verify compliance. Assessors may schedule ride-a-longs and may at their discretion formulate questions or identify topics of discussion to help determine compliance with applicable standards. Assessors may also pull additional documentation from different divisions to prove compliance other than just what is placed in the file.
The accreditation process is a joint effort accomplished by the entire agency. We look forward to serving the citizens of Sumter County and continuing to help support a wonderful place to live, work, and play.
For additional information on accreditation and the accreditation process, please contact the Sumter County Sheriff's Office Accreditation Manager, James Aguiar, Jr. at (352) 569-1694 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org