MOUNT VERNON — As part of an on-site reaccreditation of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, a public information session was held Monday night at the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County. The session was held to give members of the public a chance to ask questions and offer input into the process.
The Knox County Sheriff’s Office was first accredited in 2007. The accreditation is done every three years. Sheriff David Barber said he feels this is an important step in better serving the community.
“The biggest reason to be accredited is the exposure to liability to the county and the sheriff’s office,” he said. “Achieving the highest standard of policy and procedure that we do, so much so that CORSA, which is the insurance sharing group that insures our county, agreed two years ago to fund any Ohio sheriff’s office that was willing to achieve accreditation other than personnel costs.”
Barber said CORSA has been paying the sheriff’s office CELEA bills for maintaining its standing for the last two years.
“There has been no general fund monies other than Dan Selby’s pay as accreditation manager,” Barber added.
This accreditation requires the sheriff’s office to be in compliance with 474 law enforcement standards.
“This requires us to maintain policy and procedures and operating protocol and accountability with every single aspect of the operation of the sheriff’s office,” Barber said. “I think the community is best served by a law enforcement agency that strives for excellence and who at any time opens their office to this scrutiny. This is professional peer review for a law enforcement agency.”
The hearing was conducted by two of the CELEA assessors, Michael O’Brien of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Texas and Randy Cripe of the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office in Indiana.
“We have been authorized to assess the Knox County Sheriff’s Office by CELEA,” O’Brien said, speaking for CELEA. “The Knox County Sheriff’s Office has voluntarily contracted with the commission to work toward reaccreditation and to continue to demonstrate its professional excellence.”
The hearing took input from three people, Knox County Common Pleas Court Judge Otho Eyster, City Assistant Prosecutor P. Robert Broeren Jr. and Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Chad McGinty.
“I deal with the sheriff’s office in the civil and criminal felony branch,” Eyster said. “I have worked with the sheriff’s office for 35 years. Three years ago I stood before this committee. I said at that time I thought the sheriff’s office was in the best shape I’d ever seen it in all my years of being involved in the criminal justice system. Their cooperation with my office is just taken for granted. Dave has some excellent people in his office, Gary Rohler and Dave Shaffer, and the department is stronger than it’s ever been.”
Broeren and McGinty backed Eyster on his experience with the sheriff’s office.
“I think the sheriff’s office provides an incredibly valuable service to the community,” Broeren said.
“He does a very professional and progressive job,” added McGinty. “I feel the office should be reaccredited.”