There are 628 law enforcement agencies in Georgia. Of those, only 137 are certified by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police (GACP). The Acworth Police Department is proud to be one of those agencies. Recently, we completed our recertification cycle.
Certification status represents a significant professional achievement for law enforcement agencies. It acknowledges the implementation of policies and procedures that are conceptually sound and operationally effective. The state certification process is completely voluntary; when agencies undertake to devote the personnel and resources to achieve certification, you can be sure that they truly value the profession, and are committed to maintaining the best practices in the industry.
GACP certification places the highest value on professionalism, operational guidance, positive community support, transparency, ethical conduct and liability protection. These cornerstones are vital to our agency’s ability to provide the best possible service to the Acworth community. Achievement of state certification lets the community know that the trust the residents have in their police department is well placed. Additionally, it enables our city to receive a 20% reduction in liability insurance, since agencies that achieve certification can be expected to produce fewer negative claims.
Every police agency is responsible for developing its own policies and procedures. Attaining certification by an outside agency is like getting a second opinion. The certification process is lengthy, and it requires a thorough review of all of our policies and procedures. For each policy, the department is responsible for providing evidentiary documentation to prove that it is not just in writing, but also in active practice.
Certification managers from the GACP visit the agency and participate in ride-alongs with officers (chosen at random), in order to actually see the policies in action. I could not be more proud of our agency, our officers and, especially, our Office of Professional Standards, which administrates our certification program.
In addition to GACP certification, the division soon will begin the process of working toward certification from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). CALEA is a national certifying agency, and it is the perfect next step for our department’s continued progress. For simplicity, the two types of certifications have been compared with the difference between attaining a bachelor’s degree (state certification) and a master’s degree (CALEA certification). Like any worthwhile endeavor, it might seem a little daunting, but I am confident that our agency is up to the challenge!
– Wayne Dennard has served as chief since 2012 and has lived in this community for more than 40 years.