The Herndon Police Department has taken steps to separate itself from other law enforcement agencies in the state.
Eighteen years ago the department sought a national accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., or CALEA.
Public Information Officer senior sergeant Jerry Keys, who is also the accreditation manager, said to become a nationally accredited agency, the department had to initially meet and adhere to a long list of standards, that it now has to maintain.
"There are 400 standards that we have to meet," said Keys, adding they are only allowed to opt out of 20 percent of those standards.
CALEA says that nationally accredited agencies must "comply with a uniform and complete set of nationally accepted law enforcement policies and standards" and "demonstrate compliance through the accreditation/re-accreditation process."
Keys said that there are currently 545 nationally accredited agencies in the country, and only 23 in Virginia.
But, he said, the Herndon Police Department stands out from those agencies because of its recent state accreditation awarded in May.
He also said the Fairfax County Police Department was only state accredited, and no longer nationally recognized.
"With such a large department like Fairfax, that's a lot of work," said Keys. "They decided to not go through it anymore."
THE DEPARTMENT is only one of three in the state to be both a national and state accredited agency, he said.
With this accreditation comes a lot of work, including preparations for the re-accreditation process, which the department is up for in August.
Keys said, as accreditation manager, preparing for the on-site visit of three assessment team members has been consuming his days.
"I have been doing file work everyday," he said. "The closer you get to the accreditation evaluation date, the more work you do."
Keys said the national accreditation title, requires that the department maintain the rules and regulations it first adhered to 18 years ago when it was first given the accreditation.
"The hardest part is the paper documentation," said Keys. "We have three years worth of files."
Keys said this is the department's fourth re-accreditation, that they occur every three years, and that during the in-between time the department has to keep up on the procedures or else they could lose their national and state stature.
"IF YOU SURPASS, that's great," said Keys of maintaining the national standards, "but the big thing is they want you to follow what you say you do. They want you to stay on the newest wave of the police curve policy."
He said having both the state and national accreditation is a benefit not only to the department, but also to residents. There are specific regulations each department must follow allowing less room for mistakes, and because the department is following two sets of regulations, officers can surpass general police requirements.
The next step of the re-accreditation process is to host the three members assessment team for an on-site evaluation.
Keys said they will be checking to make sure the police vehicles are up to code with sirens and lights, that the support team and the K-9 unit have met all requirements and to tour the station and other locations.
A public information session will be held Aug. 9, where members of the community and agency employees are invited to offer comments about the department. The session will be held at the Town Council Chambers at 765 Lynn Street, in Herndon at 5:30 p.m.
If people are unable to come to the session they can call 571-238-9182 on Aug. 9 from 1- 5 p.m., to speak with the assessment team. He added, comments are limited to no more than 10 minutes and must address the agency's ability to comply with CALEA's standards.