The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office was first accredited through the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA) in June of 2008 and then reaccredited in 2011, 2014 and 2017.
The Highlands County Sheriff's Office Detention Facility received its initial accreditation award by the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission, Inc. in February of 2011 and then reaccredited in 2014 and 2017.
The function of the Accreditation Unit is to successfully facilitate the Agency's initial accreditation, and maintain future compliance with the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA) standards and the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission (FCAC) standards. The accreditation process itself enhances the entire spectrum of both law enforcement services and detention services to the community by establishing proof of continued compliance with CFA and FCAC standards.
Accreditation standards form the basis for providing the Sheriff and members a proven management system of written directives, sound tracking guidelines, clearly defined lines of authority, and routine reports that support decision making and resource allocation. Adherence to the standards established by CFA and FCAC necessitates periodic, in-depth, review of all agency operations and components. This continuing process allows the agency to change and evolve along with the needs of our community. The citizens of Highlands County are assured of a continued level of professionalism through the accreditation process.
Every Highlands County Sheriff’s Office member is a vital part of the agency’s re-accreditation effort.
What is accreditation?
An accreditation program has long been recognized as a means of maintaining the highest standards of professionalism. Accreditation is the certification by an independent reviewing authority that an entity has met specific requirements and prescribed standards. Schools, universities, and hospitals are some of the most well-known organizations that are required to maintain accreditation.
In 1993, Florida Statute 943.125 directed that the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Florida Police Chiefs Association create a voluntary law enforcement accreditation program.
Representatives from these associations developed a process for accreditation which required compliance with more than 250 professional standards designed specifically for Florida law enforcement agencies. The Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, Inc. was formed, comprised of four sheriffs, four chiefs, and one representative each from the Association of Counties, the League of Cities, the State Law Enforcement Chiefs' Association, and the Judiciary. The Commission meets quarterly to oversee the accreditation program and to officially accredit agencies that have passed the rigorous review process.
State Accreditation is only achieved after an assessment team of law enforcement/corrections professionals from other agencies around the state conduct a mock and on-site assessment. Mock and on-site assessments entail a review of an agency’s policies and procedures for compliance with established standards, physical facilities and documentation that an agency is doing what it says it is. For Corrections, they also look at safety and emergency procedures, food services, rules and discipline and other subject areas that comprise good correctional practices.
The Florida Corrections Accreditation program offers the opportunity to evaluate the Detention Facility’s operations against standards developed by the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission. This process will allow administrative members to remedy deficiencies and upgrade the quality of correctional programs and services. The overall purpose of FCAC is to improve the delivery of correctional services. All aspects of Correctional operations are addressed through the standards, including: Admission, Classification, Housing, Sanitation, Food Service, Personnel Issues, Fiscal Activities, Security, Training and Medical.
Accreditation standards are derived primarily from the Florida Model Jail Standards and are specific to the Florida Corrections profession and compatible with Florida law. The process is designed to accommodate all facilities, from the smallest to the largest.
CFA and FCAC accreditation is awarded for three years.
Benefits of Law Enforcement Accreditation
To The Community
- Accreditation increases the law enforcement agency's ability to prevent and control crime through more effective and efficient delivery of law enforcement services to the community it serves.
- Accreditation enhances community understanding of the law enforcement agency and its role in the community as well as its goals and objectives. Citizen confidence in the policies and practices of the agency is increased.
- Accreditation, in conjunction with the philosophy of community policing, commits the agency to a broad range of programs (such as crime prevention) that directly benefit the public.
- Accreditation creates a forum in which police and citizens work together to control and prevent crime. This partnership will help citizens to understand the challenges that confront law enforcement. Law enforcement will, in turn, receive clear direction from the community about its expectations; thus a common set of goals and objectives will be arrived at and implemented.
To The Sheriff
- Increases cooperation and coordination with other law enforcement agencies and other branches of the criminal justice system.
- The accreditation process requires an in-depth review of every aspect of the agency's organization, operations, and administration to include:
- establishment of agency goals and objectives with provisions for periodic updating;
- re-evaluation of whether agency resources are being used in accord with agency goals, objectives, and mission;
- re-evaluation of agency policies and procedures, especially as documented in the agency's written directive system;
- correction of internal deficiencies and inefficiencies before they become public problems;
- the opportunity to re-organize without the appearance of personal attacks.
To The Members
- Accreditation requires that agency policies and procedures are in written form and are available to all agency personnel at all times.
- Accreditation assures employees that every aspect of the agency's personnel system is in accord with professional standards, and that the system is both fair and equitable.
- The agency is compelled to operate within specific guidelines. It is accountable to the Commission. The agency must stay in compliance with the standards set forth by the Commission in order to retain its accreditation.
- The morale of the agency is enhanced by increasing the employees' confidence in the effectiveness and efficiency of their own agency. Operations become more streamlined and consistent.
- Accreditation policies address officer safety issues and provide for adequate training and equipment of the officers.
- Accreditation is a coveted award that symbolizes professionalism, excellence, and competence. Employees will take pride in their agency, knowing that it represents the very best in law enforcement.
Benefits of Corrections Accreditation
- Improved management
- Strengthens the facility's defense against lawsuits and complaints
- Increased accountability
- Enhanced public credibility for administrative and line staff
- A safer and more humane environment for personnel and inmates
- Potential reduction in liability through adoption of sound operating practices
- Demonstration of a "good faith" effort to improve conditions of confinement
- Establishment of measurable criteria for upgrading programs, personnel, and physical plant