Gretna agency becomes one of the smallest in the state to receive accreditation
As the City of Gretna eyes improvements to roads and buildings, the Gretna Police Department is also focusing on improving their outreach to the community.
According to Brian Alexander, police chief for the Gretna agency, he and members of the City of Gretna recently returned from Central Florida with the re-accreditation of the Gretna Police Department under their belt.
“Accreditation is a voluntary process in the state of Florida…Our teams go out and are looking for compliance within our standards and the reports that the commissioners get back to make our decision,” said Danielle Terrell, the Executive Director with Florida Accreditation.
The accreditation commission board requires law enforcement agencies to submit annual reports to make sure that they are maintaining compliance.
The results of the Gretna re-accreditation process confirmed that the department was compliant, which is why they were granted the reaccreditation, Terrell says.
Out of over 300 law enforcement agencies in the State of Florida, Terrell says there are approximately 168 of those agencies that are accredited.
Gretna Police Department is the only accredited agency in Gadsden County, and the smallest accredited agency in the state of Florida.
“The accreditation brings us to one standard of operation that is generally accepted by the law enforcement communities nationally…We think that all of the agencies in Gadsden County should be accredited. It says to our citizens that we are operating consistently with police departments of other areas,” said Antonio Jefferson, Gretna’s City Manager.
The Gretna Police Department had to go before the commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation’s Board.
The commission that each agency must go before only meets three times a year, so any application for accreditation or reaccreditation has a certain window that they have to make in order to make it in front of the commission in time.
“The dedication and hard work of my officers, along with myself, to strive to meet that goal means a lot,” said Gretna’s Chief Brian Alexander. “We are going to continue to try to change the stereotype about law enforcement through positive encounters with the citizens.”
The Gretna Police Department currently consists of five officers who serve the community; making it one of the smaller agencies in the state as well.
The department is in the process of working with city leaders to create more community engagement and rebuild the trust of the citizens of Gretna.
The agency will not have to go before the commission for another three years to reapply for accreditation, but will need to send yearly reports to make sure that they are following the guidelines to keep their accreditation.
While accreditation is not required of law enforcement agencies, it does allow an agency and its officers to ensure compliance and lessen the risk of compliance-related lawsuits and risks.
Accreditation ensures that officers and agency leadership understand compliance and are operating at the highest caliber of excellence.
According to the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement, only two-percent of agencies with 25 officers or less, across the United States, are accredited under commission standards.
Ebony Houston – Gadsden County News Service