Speakers praise sheriff's department at accreditation meeting

July 12, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ
  • Dennis A. Mook, left, and Rob Sofie, Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) assessors, listen to remarks from Washington County Administrator Gregory B. Murray Monday night at the county administrative building.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN --The Washington County Sheriff's Department is closer to finding out if it will receive national accreditation.

Two assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) were in Washington County the last few days to observe the sheriff's department.

On Monday, the assessors held a public meeting at the county administration building on West Washington Street in Hagerstown.

Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore said the department has spent three years working toward accreditation, which is a voluntary step.

Accredited departments have to meet 464 standards for policies and practices, said Rob Sofie, a CALEA assessor who works for a sheriff's department in Omaha, Neb.

Dennis A. Mook, the other assessor at Monday's meeting, a former Newport News, Va., police chief, said accreditation sends a message to constituents and the community that a department is striving to be the best.

Accreditation also helps with civil liability and can lower insurance premiums, Mook said.


In November 2006, when Mullendore became sheriff, he said he'd apply for accreditation.

This year, Mullendore, a Democrat, is running for a second four-year term. He will face Republican James M. Woods in the Nov. 2 general election.

Sofie and Mook will write a report on the Washington County Sheriff's Department adherence to accreditation standards.

If Washington County meets the standards, Mullendore will be invited to give a presentation at CALEA's conference in Garden Grove, Calif., in November.

Mook said Mullendore would find out by the end of the conference if the department was accredited.

CALEA accredited the Hagerstown Police Department in 1994 and reaccredited the department in 1999, according to the city's website.

Mook said departments now must be reaccredited every three years if they choose to pursue accreditation.

Eight people testified at Monday's hearing, most police or county officials. All were in favor of the sheriff's department being accredited.

They praised Mullendore for his part in getting a central booking facility and a consolidated 911 center, and said the department is professional and thinks ahead.

Washington County Commissioner James F. Kercheval called Mullendore a "techno-geek" who has improved the department's salaries and retention.

Local resident James Devine said he had trouble getting 911 call recordings connected to harassment he faced, but Mullendore runs a good department.

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