The Patrick County Sheriff’s Office recently earned accreditation through the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission (VLEPSC). Sheriff Dan Smith was presented the certificate of accreditation on October 23rd at the annual VLEPSC conference. Sheriff Smith said that the process to attain accreditation is an extremely difficult one, with much attention paid to policy detail and thoroughness. Smith said his agency has been involved in the process for a number years and that it took a commitment from everyone in the office to earn the accreditation. “Less than 25 percent of all law enforcement agencies are accredited. This puts us in an elite group of law enforcement professionals. This should be considered a milestone achievement for this agency and this county,” the sheriff said. The Patrick County Sheriff’s Office became the 92nd agency out of nearly 400 agencies statewide to become accredited.
The sheriff said that accreditation has many advantages. It increases the law enforcement agency’s ability to prevent and control crime through more effective and efficient delivery of law enforcement services to the community it serves. Accreditation enhances community understanding of the agency and its role in the community as well as its goals and objectives. As a result, citizen confidence and trust in the agency is enhanced. Accreditation commits the agency to a broad range of programs that directly benefit the public. It creates the framework for which police and citizens work together to control and prevent crime. This partnership helps citizens understand the challenges that confront law enforcement. The agency will, in turn, receive clear direction from the community about their expectations. Smith stated that operational, management, personnel and training policies are modeled in such a way to provide an armored shell of liability protection for the county, which is probably the greatest benefit.
Sheriff Smith and Major Garry Brown used the VLEPSC standards as a guide for writing the office’s policies. The sheriff said, “Every agency is unique, so we were able to conform the construction of policies to fit the needs of our agency and our constituency.” Smith said accreditation requires that 728 standards are complied with. A team of VLEPSC assessors toured the sheriff’s office for several days in mid-August and examined records and proofs of standard compliance in which the sheriff’s office ultimately passed with high marks. The sheriff stated, “The citizens we serve deserve the highest possible level of services and professionalism from us, and accreditation is the benchmark for which that is measured.” The cost of the process was minimal and the money used came from asset forfeiture funds resulting from drug arrests.
Administrative Staff Specialist Amy Shelor and Captain Ward Stone are the office’s accreditation managers. 911 Operator Felicia Beasley assisted with the clerical and organizational aspect of the process. Smith said, “I am proud of our employees and what they have been able to accomplish. I have never been more honored to serve this county and to be a part of this agency.”