On Jan. 31, the Sheriff's Office renewed its accreditation through the Oregon Accreditation Alliance.
Accreditation is a process that involves voluntary, independent verification of established standards by an outside organization of professionals and peers. It's a process that confirms a high standard of professionalism in an agency. It's also relatively new to law enforcement. In 1983, the New York State Sheriffs' Association became the first law-enforcement organization in the country to develop an accreditation program for its members. It was a success -- and inspired the creation of the Oregon Accreditation Alliance (OAA) in 2000. OAA is now one of 26 state law-enforcement accrediting bodies evaluating agencies across the United States.
There are 102 OAA accreditation standards, covering the full spectrum of law-enforcement ethics and procedures. The Sheriff's Office first earned accreditation in 2014, following a process that involved cross-referencing its policy manual with OAA standards and establishing working groups at various rank levels to speed the process along. This led to a rewrite of CCSO's policy manual -- which was uploaded to a policy-software platform that allows employees to access and search CCSO policy from anywhere.
"The advantages of accreditation are enormous," said Sheriff Craig Roberts. "When I first took office, I made a commitment to do this. The process inspired us to take a careful look at our existing policies and procedures. This process alone was incredible for our long-term health as an agency. Beyond that, it builds public trust. It also provides other long-term advantages: Just for example, some grants require you to be accredited. We've really raised our standard with this process."
"Accreditation doesn't just prove compliance," explains CCSO Policy Analyst Andrew Gale, who helped spearhead the accreditation process. "It establishes a dynamic process of internal communication and improvement. The very process of seeking accreditation enhances the agency by prompting an internal review of its basic operations."
On Thursday, Feb. 23, the Clackamas County Commissioners recognized the Sheriff's Office's accrediation during its weekly meeting.
LEARN MORE: Sheriff's Office gains OAA state accreditation (May 29, 2014 press release)