There are many fine national accreditation programs that are also available to Sheriffs' Offices, but those programs are so expensive that many counties are unable to participate. The New York State Sheriff’s Association's (NYSSA) nationally recognized accreditation programs provide a cost-effective means for counties to receive the benefits of accreditation without the huge costs associated with nationwide programs.
Accreditation of Major Functions of Sheriffs' Offices
The NYSSA's accreditation programs are provided at no cost to the participating counties. The NYSSA assumes the costs of preparing and printing the extensive accreditation manuals and other materials; the recruiting and training of peer-review assessors; food and lodging for on-site assessors; and other related expenses. The accreditation programs are not static and NYSSA staff and volunteer professionals continually review all of the combined 425 major accreditation standards and revise them as needed to meet new developments in case law, technology and best practices.
Law Enforcement Accreditation *
Accreditation is a progressive and contemporary way of helping police agencies evaluate and improve their overall performance. It provides formal recognition that an organization meets or exceeds general expectations of quality in the field. Accreditation acknowledges the implementation of policies that are conceptually sound and operationally effective.
In the early 1980's, the NYSSA developed and implemented a first-in-the-nation state level accreditation program for law enforcement operations. The program for Sheriffs' Offices was so successful and popular that the State of New York was moved to adopt the program and to extend its availability to all law enforcement agencies in the State. The NYSSA assisted the State Division of Criminal Justice Services in developing the State's accreditation standards, and NYSSA representatives continue to play an integral role in the NYS Law Enforcement Accreditation Program.
The New York State law enforcement accreditation program became operational in 1989 and has four principle goals:
- To increase the effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement agencies utilizing existing personnel, equipment and facilities to the extent possible;
- To promote increased cooperation and coordination among law enforcement agencies and other agencies of the criminal justice services;
- To ensure the appropriate training of law enforcement personnel; and
- To promote public confidence.
Twenty-five Sheriffs' Offices currently maintain State law enforcement accreditation status under the State operated program, along with ninety-four other state and local police agencies. The law enforcement accreditation program consists of one hundred thirty (130) standards and is divided into three categories. Standards in the Administrative section have provisions for such topics as agency organization, fiscal management, personnel practices, and records. Training standards encompass basic and in-service instruction, as well as training for supervisors and specialized or technical assignments. Operations standards deal with such critical and litigious topics as high-speed pursuits, roadblocks, patrol, and unusual occurrences.
Additional information with regards to the law enforcement accreditation process can be found at the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Corrections Accreditation *
The operation of a safe and secure county jail is one of the most difficult government functions - and one which exposes the Sheriff and county government to great legal and financial liability. In 1998, the NYSSA developed and implemented a jail accreditation program designed to enhance county jail operations and reduce exposure to liability. The NYSSA jail accreditation program has established 166 standards of excellence which must be met by a county jail in order for the facility to earn accredited status. Since its inception, twenty county jails have received accreditation.
Civil Division Accreditation *
Sheriffs' Civil Divisions serve and execute civil court process, such as summons, evictions, Family Court orders, executions, orders of attachment, orders of seizure, and many more civil process items. Additionally, these divisions must collect and account for millions of dollars received by the Sheriff in enforcing civil judgments. To help Sheriffs assure that these divisions operate efficiently and properly, the NYSSA in 1995, developed a civil accreditation program that now contains 121 civil accreditation standards. The standards contain detailed requirements regarding the handling and accounting of money collected for judgments and money collected by Sheriffs on behalf of the county. The Civil Division accreditation program consists of one hundred twenty one (121) standards which Civil Divisions must comply with to gain accreditation by the New York State Sheriff’s Association.
Court Security Accreditation *
Some Sheriffs and their counties participate in contracts with the Office of Court Administration to provide security services to our Supreme and County Courts. As we know from cases around the State and around the country, courts have unexpectedly become targets of violent and sometimes deadly events. NYSSA worked closely with the NYS Office of Court Administration when it reviewed and developed security policies following the recent courtroom incident in Atlanta, Georgia, in which a judge, court reporter and Deputy Sheriff were killed and another Deputy was wounded. The NYSSA also created a Court Security Accreditation Program to help Sheriffs better provide courtroom security services. This is NYSSA's newest accreditation program, started in 2005. Several other counties are now also working to achieve accreditation. The Court Security Accreditation program consists of thirty nine (39) standards which court security divisions must comply with to gain accreditation by the New York State Sheriff’s Association.
The accreditation programs for the Corrections, Court Security and Civil Divisions are administered by the New York State Sheriff’s Association. Additional information may be found at www.nysheriffs.org
The Undersheriff oversees the accreditation process for the Seneca County Sheriff's Office. Presently, the Seneca County Sheriff's Office is a fully New York State Accredited Law Enforcement Agency and Correctional Facility. The Seneca County Sheriff's Office is only one of three Sheriff's Office in New York State to hold all four state-wide accreditations.