The North Augusta Department of Public Safety now holds a nationally accredited status under a credentialing authority program.
The department was awarded its accreditation with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies for the first time on Nov. 18.
Chief John Thomas announced the accreditation Friday.
“It provides the community a sense of relief,” he said inside a North Augusta Municipal Building courtroom surrounded by his command staff. “It puts us on a whole different platform as law enforcement and holds us accountable to ensure that the public gets the best public safety department they can receive.”
As part of the program the department is required to uphold CALEA standards in polices, procedures and community involvement. This includes strengthening crime prevention and control capabilities, formulating essential management procedures and establishing fair and nondiscriminatory practices.
During the three year effort to obtain the accreditation, the department updated and created new polices and procedures in areas such as its detention facility, Lt. Tim Thornton said.
“Most of what CALEA standards are asking for are a little bit more specific than the state standard,” he said following Friday’s announcement. “With regards to our detention facility we had to refocus some of our attention on courtroom security based on how things have changed over the year.”
Another adjustment for the department was to ensure employees are aware of the new policies. Thomas said this transition worked as a “group effort” with possible outcomes of growth for the department.
”It’s a great opportunity for us to shine,” he said. “It gives us a name and recognition with CALEA which is actually recognized nationwide, so we’ve joined that elite group and have the opportunity to attract new people and those people that we wouldn’t typically get will now look at us in a different light.”
Under CALEA, the department retains all privileges associated with the Gold Standard accreditation and is expected to remain in effect for four years. As the department works to uphold the new national standard, Thomas said it will continue to be transparent with the community.
“Going forward we are going to continue to work on what our goals are and our vision,” he said. “We’re just as proud as we can be and I want to make sure that the community can and will understand that they have a nationally accredited agency that cares about them.”