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FSA Program Assists with Agency Accreditation

April 07, 2023

Every day, the Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) strives to foster the effectiveness of the Office of Sheriff through leadership, innovative practices, legislative initiatives, education and training. Accreditation, a process and standard that encourages continual internal review to improve organization functions, promotes best practices, and increases community confidence in law enforcement, is one tool we use to reach that goal.

For a sheriff’s office, achieving accredited status is challenging and demonstrates that it has met established standards of quality through extensive self-study and external review.  Here’s how FSA is leading the effort to encourage and enable more agencies to achieve accreditation status in Florida. 

Accreditation Basics

What does it take to achieve accreditation status?

Agencies must begin by thoroughly examining their policies, facilities and practices to determine compliance with the standards. Policies not meeting standards must be revised and distributed to all employees.  The agency must ensure the policies are followed and collect documents to prove compliance. The standards reflect law enforcement best practices. 

When the agency feels it is in full compliance with the standards, a team of assessors from outside the agency makes a site visit to determine compliance. A final report is submitted to the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA) for review and the final determination of accredited status. 

The CFA sets forth all policies and procedures for the accreditation process. They are responsible for the direction and operation of the Florida Accreditation Office (FAO). The Commission holds three meetings annually for reviewing agencies for accreditation or reaccreditation. 

FSA Accreditation Assistance Program 

Becoming accredited is time-consuming and requires the commitment of agency staff. There are often expenses associated with the improvements an agency must make to comply with the standards. For these reasons, sheriffs in Florida’s rural or fiscally constrained counties are particularly challenged with achieving accreditation. 

Recognizing this, Florida’s sheriffs committed in 2020 to help these agencies become CFA accredited by authorizing the FSA Accreditation Assistance program, in December of that year.  FSA Accreditation Coordinators provide direct assistance to these agency staff with policy review and revision, facilities inspections, and training. FSA added additional staff to support this, and this is the only program of its kind in the United States. 

FSA staff are guided by the Accreditation Advisory Committee. Members are appointed by the FSA Board of Directors and include: 

  • Sheriff Kurt Hoffman, Sarasota County, Chair 
  • Sheriff Rob Hardwick, St. Johns County
  • Sheriff Mark Hunter, Columbia County
  • Sheriff Grady Judd, Polk County
  • Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Pinellas County 
  • Sheriff Mac McNeill, Jefferson County 

Committee members are not directly involved in accreditation issues, but review and approve proposals to assist with the accreditation process. 

Accreditation History in Florida

While the FSA created the Agency Accreditation Program in 2020, its history of supporting accreditation in Florida started much earlier. 

In 1993, FSA and the Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA) created a voluntary law enforcement agency accreditation program.  It requires compliance with 237 professional standards designed specifically for Florida law enforcement agencies.  Through this effort, the CFA was created, and awarded its first agency accreditation in 1996.  

Law Enforcement Accreditation Today

Accreditation is one of many standards by which Florida’s law enforcement continues to lead the nation in best practices and continued improvement. Currently, there are 157 police departments, sheriffs’ offices and state law enforcement agencies accredited in Florida, including 41 of Florida’s 67 sheriffs’ offices. Twenty-four agencies are currently working with FSA’s Accreditation Assistance Program, with many more to come.

Joining the Florida Sheriffs Association is a tangible way to express your support for the work that our Sheriffs do to protect families like yours every day. With your support, we will continue to assist more agencies in reaching accreditation status. Click here to support the FSA by becoming a member today.