During an April 2017 session, the Delaware County Board of Commissioners approved an agreement allowing the Emergency Communications Department (911) to seek accreditation with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).
After two years of preparation and a final round of questioning by the CALEA Committee on Nov. 15, representatives of Delaware County were awarded the official accreditation during a meeting held in northern Kentucky.
The official announcement was made during the commissioners’ Nov. 18 session by Delaware County Administrator Michael Frommer and Delaware County Emergency Communications Director Patrick Brandt.
“There was a hearing in which the committee, that recommends accreditation, fired off a bunch of questions at our team,” Frommer said. “Director Brandt did an excellent job. You could tell that we were going to meet the criteria for accreditation, but you could also tell that we far exceeded in the answers that we gave.”
According to the CALEA website, its accreditation promotes efficient use of resources, improves service delivery regardless of the size, geographic location, or the functional responsibilities of an agency on a continuing basis.
According to county officials, the initial cost to earn the accreditation was $13,634. The yearly cost to maintain it will be $3,235.
Brandt said there were over 213 standards and his team met most of the required standards. He said there were 116 agencies at the conference being reviewed for either their initial or renewal accreditation.
“Overall,we did meet well above the expectation of some of the other agencies that were there,” he said. “We had a higher percentage of completion. Without the buy-in from the staff, being successful in a project of this magnitude would have been very hard.”
Brandt gave much of the credit to Matthew Fletcher, a public safety systems specialist with the county, who served as the accreditation manager during the process of obtaining the accreditation.
“During our onsite review, the CALEA review team had the ability to meet with any of our staff,” Brandt said. “The review team would go into the center at random times and sit with several of the on-duty staff and start asking questions. We had to prove that everyone on our staff was aware of the correct processes and had a working knowledge of the policies.”
According to county officials, the county agency is now one of 112 out of 6,296 Public Safety Answering Points, the industry term for emergency communication agencies, in the United States to become a CALEA Accredited Agency.
“We’re the second standalone communication center in the sate of Ohio that is accredited,” Brandt said. “Miami County was first, and obviously, our 911 board was developed off of Miami County’s policies. Overall in the state of Ohio, we’re the seventh that is accredited.”
Within Delaware County, the Powell and Genoa Township police departments are two agencies accredited through CALEA, following the industry’s best practices standards.
The Powell Police Department has been an accredited law enforcement agency with CALEA since 2002 and received the Meritorious Advanced Accreditation for Law Enforcement with Excellence award March 25, 2017. Retired Police Chief Gary Vest, an advocate for CALEA, had urged the Delaware County 911 Board to seek the accreditation.
In a prior report, Vest said CALEA is an organization built by the pillars of the law enforcement community who want to meet the expectations of the law enforcement profession and community. He said he liked having the extra set of eyes that come with having an audit system in place.
“The audit process proves we are doing what we are supposed to be doing,” he said previously. “It’s an audit process that covers the whole gamut of what police do.”
Delaware County Commissioner Gary Merrell, who serves on the 911 Board of Directors for the county, said this was a process worth undergoing.
“This reinforces that the county provides a superior level of 911 service to the benefit of all Delaware County residents and visitors,” Merrell said. “It also provides us with a mechanism to ensure we continue to meet these high standards.”
Brandt said that in order to maintain the accreditation, every agency is subject to an annual review of its policies.
For more information about the Delaware County 911 Center, visit its website at https://emergencycomms.co.delaware.oh.us/.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.