The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office recently achieved an elite statewide standard through the Oregon Accreditation Alliance.

Currently in Oregon, 32 percent of all law-enforcement agencies are involved in the accreditation program, and just over 20 percent of those agencies are accredited.

Accreditation is a process that involves voluntary, independent verification of established standards by an outside organization of professionals and peers to confirm a high standard of professionalism in an agency.

There are 102 OAA accreditation standards, covering the full spectrum of law-enforcement ethics and procedures. CCSO cross-referenced its policy manual with OAA standards and established working groups at various ranks to speed the process along. This led to a rewrite of CCSO’s policy manual, which was uploaded to a policy-software platform that allows employees to access and search CCSO policy from anywhere.

“The advantages of accreditation are enormous,” said Sheriff Craig Roberts. “When I first took office, I made a commitment to do this. The process inspired us to take a careful look at our existing policies and procedures. This process alone was incredible for our long-term health as an agency. Beyond that, it builds public trust. It also provides other long-term advantages. For example, some grants require you to be accredited. We’ve really raised our standard with this process.”

“Accreditation doesn’t just prove compliance,” said CCSO policy analyst Andrew Gale, who helped spearhead the accreditation process. “It establishes a dynamic process of internal communication and improvement. The very process of seeking accreditation enhances the agency by prompting an internal review of its basic operations.”

On Thursday, May 22, Clackamas County commissioners recognized the achievement during their weekly meeting. Ed Boyd, executive director of OAA and a former chief of police, presented Roberts with an Official Certificate of State Accreditation and spoke about the many advantages of accreditation.

“It also, in my opinion, takes courage for an organization to take on the rigorous accreditation process,” Boyd said. “Any time the chief executive officer of an organization invites an outside third party into their department to review and inspect everything associated with their operations and render an opinion as to whether they meet a set of best-practice standards for that profession, that by itself shows commitment, transparency and dedication to excellence.”

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