|Law Enforcement, Corrections Both Receive Accrediation Approval--Wakulla Times Nov. 2011|
By Donnie Crum, Wakulla County Sheriff
It is a pleasure to serve Wakulla County as Interim Sheriff for the second time. I served as sheriff for a little more than a month in December 2008 when Sheriff Harvey was meeting the obligations of his retirement. He had to stay away from the sheriff’s office until early 2009 and I covered the office during that time.
A short time before Sheriff Harvey resigned from his position, we were inspected for compliance and accreditation by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation and the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission. Every three years the law enforcement and corrections divisions undergo a thorough review to make sure we are meeting all of the strict standards for accreditation.
The Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation recently sent the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office a written Full-Compliance On-Site Assessment Report that provided documentation that the WCSO was in 100 percent compliance of the law enforcement standards.
There are 155 mandatory standards that are reviewed by the assessment team and another 108 that are considered non-mandatory that were reviewed as well. The WCSO received a 100 percent compliance grade on both sets of standards.
After being greeted by Accreditation Manager Lt. Danny Deal, the assessment team reviewed an electronic static display. “This was an innovative idea as it allowed each division of the sheriff’s office to display their equipment and explain what each section does,” the assessors wrote in their report. “By creating this static display video, it saved time and money by not requiring staff to come to the sheriff’s office and set up their equipment and wait for the team to have time to review their display.”
Team members reviewed files, conducted numerous interviews and participated in two ride-alongs. “During the course of the file review, the team determined all applicable policies were in compliance with the standards. All supporting documentation presented in the accreditation files was complete and properly highlighted for the assessors to quickly verify compliance.”
The assessors determined that the sheriff’s office “had a solid structure with clear lines of communication, authority and accountability.” The team also discovered that the sheriff’s office showed signs of being a close knit family and enjoyed working together. “Agency members were enthusiastic about the accreditation process. The members were very proud of their agency and this was evident in the actions, statements and willingness to participate in the accreditation process.”
Some of the highlights of the accreditation process included a ride-along with Deputy Cole Wells by Assessor Darryl Daniels, Chief of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The ride-along gave the assessor an opportunity to talk to Deputy Wells about WCSO policies regarding pursuits, body armor, and use of force, roadblocks and equipment carried in the road patrol vehicle.
Deputy Wells took a juvenile into custody during the ride-along and Assessor Daniels got a firsthand look at how the entire booking process worked. Adults were removed from sight and sound of the juvenile during the booking process and the juvenile was read his rights and questioned by law enforcement with the child’s mother present.
Lt. Jimmy Sessor was interviewed about the security of confidential informant and organized crime files which are kept under lock and key. Case management is maintained through a feature of the Smart Cop software on WCSO computers. Smart Cop is the agency’s report management system.
Assessors interviewed Captain Tommy Martin and a member of the Vice Unit to discuss the method for developing and processing potential confidential informants (CI) and the approval process for the CI through the chain of command.
Mutual aid agreements are maintained to address Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) needs as well as bomb disposal activities.
Assessor Daniels determined that Intelligence Files are electronic and password protected and under the care of the Crime Analyst Marshall Taylor.
Public information was examined and PIO Keith Blackmar described the process for disseminating information to the media. At the time of the interview the WCSO was an assisting agency attempting to locate a missing boater. Since the WCSO was first on the scene, the PIO issued a press release on the original complaint which was eventually turned over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The PIO is also an on-call position for after hour’s media contacts and response to crime scenes.
An interview with Sgt. Steve Smith at the Wakulla County Courthouse discussed the process of transporting prisoners of different genders as well as juveniles. The WCSO does not transport juveniles with adults and keeps males and females separated.
A second ride-along occurred with Assessor Mary Vaught of the Gainesville Police Department and Deputy Sean Wheeler. “Every interaction that he had with the public was excellent,” the report said of the deputy. “Deputy Wheeler was very knowledgeable and helpful to everyone.”
Lt. Sherrell Morrison and Communications Deputy Evelyn Brown were observed in their communications roles and were “very knowledgeable about their jobs and showed great care and concern about the deputies and the citizens they serve.”
Interviews were also conducted with Allison Blackstock in the Records Division and Rae Anna Eddens and Lorinda Sanders in the Property and Evidence Section, an area that must be “well maintained and secure.”
Karen Day and the Human Resources Section met all requirements of accreditation standards for maintaining secure HR files.
Project Graduation for high school seniors; and Project Connect which assists juveniles who have spent time at juvenile detention facilities adjust to life back in their home county after they have met the obligations of their court ordered assessment.
So in conclusion, the Assessment Team “found the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office members to be extremely receptive to the team members and knowledgeable of both their agency’s procedures and the accreditation process. The agency was found to be in full compliance with the applicable mandatory standards. All agency members were extremely hospitable toward the assessors. It is the team’s pleasure to recommend the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office to be presented at the next Commission meeting for full reaccreditation.”
The accreditation process for the corrections section of the sheriff’s office was a few weeks after the law enforcement inspection. The jail also received reaccreditation and was congratulated by their inspection team. The accreditation inspection teams for the law enforcement section and jail were two different crews representing entirely different law enforcement agencies throughout Florida.
The Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission recently submitted a written assessment report from the Aug. 31 to Sept. 2 Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office Detention Facility accreditation inspection.
The inspection team included: Team Leader David L. Harvey of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Diana Frost of Osceola County Corrections and Don West of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office. The team conducted an entrance interview with members of the Corrections Division including: Major Jared Miller, Major Larry Massa, Captain Jackie Norrman, Acting Captain Bruce Ashley, Lt. Scott Barwick, Sgt. Lisa Spears, Detention Deputy Ryan Muse, Detention Deputy Reed Brown, Sgt. Lindsay Maxwell and Florida Sheriff’s Association Jail Services Coordinator Isaiah Dennard.
The inspection team was given a tour of the facility and began reviewing files, conducted staff interviews and observed booking, medication pass and food delivery. The assessment team also attended the shift change at 4:45 p.m.
The assessment process included interviews with 14 staff members representing the jail and other divisions. The team also interviewed 30 inmates with a mixture of males and females.
In summary: “The officers and staff of the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office Detention Facility demonstrated an overall commitment to the accreditation process and their quest for excellence is commendable,” the report said. “It is clearly evident the command staff and staff are eager to maintain a high level of professionalism in the detention arena to achieve reaccreditation. The staff members are very knowledgeable and it is apparent they perform their work responsibilities according to agency policies and accreditation standards on a daily basis.
“It is the recommendation of the assessment team that the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office Detention Facility be reviewed for reaccreditation at the next scheduled Commission meeting.”