“Change is occurring at a faster pace than any time in history.  As a police leader, you can embrace this reality and be an integral part of the process or have it forced upon you.”
Butch Ayers, Executive Director, GACP 

WHAT IS STATE CERTIFICATION?
Certification status represents a significant professional achievement for a law enforcement agency.  Certification acknowledges the implementation of policies and procedures conceptually sound and operationally effective. The Certification Program provides a comprehensive blueprint for effective, professional law enforcement.  Program staff at the GACP are prepared to make their knowledge, experience, and resources available to help your agency become certified.  We encourage you to contact us to obtain more information on the program. It is the role of the Georgia Law Enforcement Certification Program to establish standards promoting professionalism in law enforcement, oversee the State Certification process, and award certification status to Georgia Law Enforcement agencies that meet the established standards.  

WHY DO CERTIFICATION?
Certification is the vehicle for modern, progressive law enforcement CEOs to move their agency forward into the 21st century.  There is no better time than now!  Law enforcement is constantly in the media about something the agency did (or did not do) that the public perceives as a violation of someone’s rights or agency policies.  Sometimes these complaints are justified; many times, not.  If your policies and procedures are written in accordance with state approved standards, employees are trained in those policies and procedures and followed those policies and procedures, the chances of a successful lawsuit against the city/county, the department and/or the officer(s) is greatly reduced.   

Think about it.  Would you send your family to a hospital that does not meet a set of standards for health care?  The answer should be no.  Would you send your children to a college or university that does not meet a set of standards for higher education?  Again, the answer should be no.  Take that analogy and apply it to law enforcement.  The first two are required to meet standards related to their field.  For law enforcement, certification is voluntary.  You do it because you want to be the best you can be.  Georgia is providing a comprehensive set of standards to help an agency CEO better manage their department.  It does not tell you how to run your agency.  It is designed to help enhance your ability.  Once an agency becomes certified, if their city/county gets their liability insurance from Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency (GIRMA), they are entitled to a 20% discount on premiums.    

 Today, if you are not state certified, you are a lawsuit waiting to happen! 

THE PROCESS
The certification process has several steps.  The time an agency should plan on allotting to complete the process varies depending upon the work that must be accomplished and the time that can be committed to drafting and implementing new policies and procedures. The eight steps of the certification process are: 

 1 – Assess Commitment 

2 – Application Process 

3 – Developing Policies and Procedures 

4 – On-Site Assessment 

5 – State Certification Committee (SCC) 

6 – Joint Review Committee (JRC) 

7 – Award Presentation 

8 – Maintaining Compliance 

CORNERSTONES OF CERTIFICATION 

  • Professionalism
  • Operational Guidance 
  • Positive Community Support 
  • Transparency 
  • Ethical Conduct 
  • Liability Protection 

COST
Each applicant must pay an application fee, currently $375.00.  Once certified, a yearly maintenance fee of $375.00 helps offset the cost of managing the program.  Agencies are responsible for the travel, lodging, and meals of the assessors during the pre-certification review (mock) and on-site evaluation.   The agency should not need to hire an additional person to accomplish certification. 

PROGRAM STANDARDS
The Law Enforcement Certification Program has identified standards deemed to be essential to the efficient and effective operation of law enforcement agencies.  These standards are covered in nine (9) areas essential to agency operation.  Participating agencies are expected to implement all standards.  Some standards do not apply to all agencies, and waivers may be approved in those circumstances. 

For more information, contact Chuck Groover, State Certification Coordinator at 770-495-9650 or groover@gachiefs.com.