|Command staff, deputies celebrate at Ferrum College|
Staff Photo by Stacey Hairston:
Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton accepted a Certificate of Accreditation Wednesday during a celebration at Ferrum College.
Friday, March 7, 2014
By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer
The Franklin County Sheriff's Office has earned state accreditation, fulfilling a campaign promise by Sheriff Bill Overton.
"This is a momentous occasion for us," Overton said. "Not only was it a campaign promise that I had made to the citizens of Franklin County, I really felt in my heart that this was something that this organization deeply needed, and I knew it was something that the members of this office needed themselves."
A team of assessors from the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission completed a three-day examination in December of all aspects of the sheriff's office policy and procedures, management, operation and support services.
"The purpose of the visit by the team was to ensure that the sheriff's office meets the commission's state-of-the-art standards that are part of a voluntary process to gain accreditation -- a highly prized recognition of law enforcement professional excellence," said Overton.
The assessment team was composed of law enforcement practitioners from similar agencies, according to Daniel Marcey, accreditation manager for the sheriff's office. The assessors spent time reviewing deputies and staff, as well as visiting offices and other places where compliance to standards could be witnessed.
The sheriff's office had to comply with 186 standards, many with multiple subheadings, in order to gain accredited status, he added.
Accreditation was one of the goals and visions Overton wanted to accomplish in the first two years of his tenure as sheriff.
"Accreditation doesn't automatically make you a tremendously better office, but what it does do is give you a set of standards to achieve and work for as you're working diligently to make sure that you are serving the people and serving their interests the best you can," he said.
The sheriff's office and its staff were recognized Wednesday with a ceremony at Ferrum College.
"Franklin County is indeed fortunate to have such a committed and dedicated sheriff and sheriff's office," said Franklin County Circuit Court Judge W.N. Alexander II. "The fact that so many long and hard hours of work went into receiving this accreditation is testimony to the fact that we have a first class sheriff's office whose primary goal is the safety of the citizens of Franklin County."
Roanoke City Police Chief Chris Perkins referred to accreditation status as "the public safety version of the good housekeeping seal of approval."
"It proves to your citizens that elected officials and employees of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office are leaders in public safety, service-oriented and most of all, accountable to the public trust you are responsible to uphold," said Perkins.
Overton said his office's accreditation status was an team effort that included all of his 97 staff members who give of themselves every day to make Franklin County safe.
"I am so proud of the accomplishments of each one of them. They have worked hard for to see this day come forward," Overton said.
Accreditation is not a one-time occurrence. It is an ongoing process, Marcey said. Status is granted for four years, during which time the agency must submit annual reports to attest to the continued compliance with those standards under which it was initially accredited.
"You are to be applauded and duly recognized," said County Administrator Rick Huff. "The Department of Criminal Justice Services talks about creating a spirit of professionalism, a spirit of competence and a spirit of excellence as a result of the process you have just been through. To instill confidence in the citizens of Franklin County in their arm of law enforcement is a tremendous asset to the county as we market what we all know to be a great place to live, work and play."