In 2010, during the tenure of the late Sheriff John P. Durante, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) became the first sheriff’s office in Pennsylvania to be accredited by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Accreditation Commission for successful completion of the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Program. It also became the first sheriff’s office to receive re-accreditation in 2013, as the result of a unanimous vote by the Board of Pennsylvania Police Chiefs. There are only three out of 67 sheriff departments accredited in the state of Pennsylvania.
After application and self-assessment, the final step of the accreditation process continues with an intense two-day onsite audit led by assessment team leaders from the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Accreditation Program and Sgt. Allen F. Stewart, Sr., Accreditation Manger of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. Following accreditation, the MCSO must continue to show proof of compliance over a three-year period to prepare for re-accreditation. The audit includes inspecting files and equipment, interviewing department personnel and, accompanying deputies during law enforcement activities by the accreditation commission. Sheriff’s office employees are also required to attend seminars and complete training requirements for 18 months during the three-year cycle.
The Accreditation Program was introduced by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police in 2001 as a reasonable and cost-effective way of raising the professionalism of the state’s law enforcement agencies. Police and sheriff’s departments must meet criteria for up to 132 standards, which include organization and management; law enforcement functions; state legal mandates; use of force; fiscal management; disciplinary procedures; management of cells and holding areas; and property and evidence control. Adhering to these strict standards helps boost the confidence of citizens in their local law enforcement departments, reduces insurance liability rates, and increases employee input.
The sheriff’s office celebrated its re-accreditation in 2013 on June 6th with a presentation by Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association Accreditation Project Coordinator Joe Blackburn at the county courthouse and received a special recognition from the county commissioners’ office.