Madison County Sheriff’s Office seeking law enforcement accreditation, public invited to comment

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The Madison County Sheriff’s Office will welcome important visitors next week, as the department seeks law enforcement accreditation held by a small fraction of agencies in the United States.

An assessment team from CALEA – the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies – will be in Madison County next week to conduct interviews, ride-alongs and hear from the public about the sheriff’s office.

The public portion will include a call-in opportunity for the public to talk with CALEA assessors from 3-5 p.m., April 25. The number to call to comment on the Madison County Sheriff’s Office is 256-532-3785.

A public information and comment session is set for April 26, beginning at 6 p.m., and it will be held at the National Children’s Advocacy Center, 210 Pratt Ave., Huntsville.  Comments are limited to 10 minutes, but there is no announced time limit to the overall program.

The assessment visit, which begins April 25, marks one of the final stages in a process that began in 2015. Only about 5 percent of U.S. law enforcement agencies hold CALEA accreditation.

The CALEA board will review the findings this summer and could announce the sheriff’s office has met the accreditation standard. The standard includes 181 different elements, from human resources policies, to training to use-of-force policies and reviews to daily operations standards.

If the accredited is awarded it would make the Madison County Sheriff’s Office only the second sheriff’s office in Alabama to hold the distinction. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is currently the only sheriff’s office in Alabama to have CALEA certification.

The Huntsville Police Department has had the designation since 1996 and the Madison Police Department is also currently preparing for a CALEA assessment.

The sheriff’s office has completed its self-assessment and has had its records and policies by CALEA, said Capt. Chad Brooks, who’s been the accreditation manager for the sheriff’s office.

The assessment visit next week is the final major step before the assessment report is written and given to the CALEA board for review.

Brooks said the process has been challenging, but worth it.

“The purpose of accreditation is best practices,” he said. “The goal is to always to provide better service to the community, so we’re always in search of a better way.”

It’s meant a complete rewriting of the office’s policy manual, new training and procedures.

“This touches every aspect of the department, and it requires you to reevaluate what you’re doing at every level,” Brooks said. “And then not only that, it requires you to go back and review.”