Sidney PD honored in Ohio’s new accreditation program


COLUMBUS — The Sidney Police Department has been chosen as one of 10 agencies to begin the accreditation process for Ohio’s new Collaborative Law Enforcement Accreditation Program.

On March 21, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order establishing a statewide program to recognize law enforcement agencies that voluntarily meet or exceed Ohio’s new standards for professional excellence.

Led by the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board, the new Ohio Collaborative Law Enforcement Accreditation Program will certify law enforcement agencies that implement a series of nearly three dozen state standards reflective of best practices in law enforcement. Although several other states have law enforcement accreditation programs, Ohio’s program is the only state-administered program in the nation that does not charge law enforcement agencies to participate.

“You can’t put a price on professionalism in public service,” said DeWine. “Every citizen in Ohio deserves to live in a community where its police force is guided by the highest standards of integrity, accountability, and excellence. Accreditation instills public trust and confidence in policing practices, and by offering this new program for free, we’re making accreditation attainable for all agencies no matter how big or small.”

Law enforcement agencies that participate in the Ohio Collaborative Law Enforcement Accreditation Program must meet 31 policing standards that address various core responsibilities in law enforcement such as professional conduct, bias-free policing, crisis intervention, and community engagement. Standards also address policies surrounding criminal arrests, use of force, vehicular pursuits, appropriate policing of youth, patrol practices, record and evidence management, agency wellness, and career development.

“The goal of the new Ohio Collaborative Law Enforcement Accreditation Program is to create meaningful, attainable, and sustainable standardization for Ohio law enforcement,” said Karen Huey, the Ohio Department of Public Safety assistant director and chair of the Collaborative. “Establishing an accreditation process also increases transparency for the community and furthers trust in law enforcement practices.”

Participation in the program is voluntary but is anticipated to be widespread, creating largely uniform policing practices across jurisdictions statewide. The new program will eventually expand to allow multiple levels of accreditation to meet the needs of Ohio’s more than 900 diverse law enforcement agencies.

“The new accreditation program highlights the importance of implementing minimum standards to enhance public trust and promote effective policing across the state,” said Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director Donna Harrass. “This certification will give law enforcement agencies policies and procedures that prioritize community engagement and professionalism. The Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police stands ready to assist agencies in completing the accreditation process.”

“The sheriffs of Ohio are proud to participate in this certification program which, when fully implemented, will provide a baseline for our profession,” said Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Bob Cornwell.

The rollout of the program will take place in two rounds. The first round will operationalize the program by focusing on 10 agencies of various sizes located throughout the state:

• Dayton Police Department

• Dublin Police Department

• Fairborn Police Department

• Ohio State Highway Patrol

• Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office

• Sidney Police Department

• Springfield Police Department

• Stark County Sheriff’s Office

• University of Toledo Police Department

• Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office

After this first round of accreditation, the program will open to all law enforcement agencies across Ohio.

The new accreditation program expands on a separate program — the Ohio Collaborative Law Enforcement Certification Program — which has certified more than 600 law enforcement agencies on specific best practices regarding use of force and law enforcement recruitment, hiring, and screening. Agencies certified through this program were also encouraged to attain certification in several optional best practices. All certification standards are considered mandatory for accreditation.

The Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board was created in 2015 to strengthen law enforcement’s relationship with the public. It works in coordination with the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Office of Criminal Justice Services and consults with the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association and Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police.

In 2016, the Sidney Police Department was the first agency in Ohio to be Ohio Collaborative certified, under former Chief William Balling. The agency is currently in the process of re-certification with the Collaborative. To maintain a high standard of organizational culture, the accreditation process is crucial for achieving this. It also supports other Ohio law enforcement agencies in striving for the same standards.

“We are honored and humbled that the Sidney Police Department was selected by Governor DeWine, The Ohio Department of Public Safety, and the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services to participate in this historic program,” Sidney Police Chief Mark McDonough said. “Since our agency is Ohio Collaborative certified in best law enforcement practices for current standards, we welcome the opportunity to build upon our strengths and will work towards becoming a premier law enforcement agency, for our size, in this part of Ohio.”

The department’s mission, vision, and goals will always showcase a dedication to the community. The community’s involvement in achieving these goals is crucial, as they play a vital role in this endeavor. Each policy developed must withstand the evaluation of not only the assessors but also the stakeholders who benefit from these services.

“The Sidney Police Department doesn’t ‘police’ our community; we ‘police’ for and with our community,” McDonough said.

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