An Accreditation Program has long been recognized as a means of maintaining the highest standards of professionalism. Accreditation is the certification by an independent reviewing authority that an entity has met specific requirements and prescribed standards.
In 1993, Florida Statute 943.125 directed that the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Florida Police Chiefs Association create a voluntary law enforcement accreditation program.
Representatives from these Associations developed a process for accreditation which required compliance with more than 250 professional standards designed specifically for Florida law enforcement agencies. The Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, Inc. was formed, comprised of four sheriffs, four chiefs, and one representative each from the Association of Counties, the League of Cities, the State Law Enforcement Chiefs’ Association, and the Judiciary. The Commission meets quarterly to oversee the accreditation program and to officially accredit agencies that have passed the rigorous review process.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) facilitates, coordinates and manages the State accreditation process. For more information on Florida Accreditation, visit flaccreditation.org.
To be accredited an agency must meet hundreds of standards established by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation. These standards address all facets of the agency including administration, internal affairs operations, investigations, patrol, personnel, training, traffic, response to resistance and more.
The Accreditation function is responsible for ensuring that areas of the department remain in compliance with specific standards as set forth by the State of Florida. The community and the department benefit from this process because it reinforces an agency’s ability to maintain the highest standards of law enforcement services that represent current professional practices. The benefits of accreditation are numerous and affect many areas of a law enforcement organization as well as the community in which they serve.
- Provides for State and Nationwide recognition of the desire for continued professional excellence
- Requires a continuous in-depth review of the organization, management, operations and administration of the department
- Ensures a systematic evaluation of policies and procedures
- Mandates clearly articulated policies and procedures manuals
- Contributes to improved communication and coordination with other law enforcement agencies and other branches of the criminal justice system
- Allows for continuous access to information, trends and updates relevant to modern law enforcement practices
- Ensures department members that every aspect of the personnel system is in accord with professional standards and is both fair and equitable
- Increases employee confidence in the organization
- Commits the agency to a broad range of programs that directly benefit the public
- Increases community understanding, confidence and support
- Deters litigation and lawsuits by citizens
- Requires the agency accountable to the Commission. And must stay in compliance with the in order to retain accreditation status
Where we are and how we got here
The Winter Park Police Department officially obtained accreditation status on Accredited on June 28, 2000 in Gainesville. The agency was reaccredited in 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. In order to become and stay accredited, there are several processes which occur.
- The agency must apply to the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation to participate in the accreditation process.
- The agency is required to demonstrate compliance with all applicable mandatory standards and not less than 80% of applicable non-mandatory standards.
- Proof of compliance with standards is determined by an assessment team sent by the Commission who conduct an on-site review of the agency’s policies, procedures and practices. Team members verify and confirm compliance with standards by reviewing files, interviewing personnel and participating in patrol ride-alongs with police officers.
- The Assessment Team then completes a comprehensive report on the agency; the report is submitted to the Commission for review. Within a couple months, at a formal Commission meeting, the report is presented and the Commission votes on the whether the agency should be granted accredited (or reaccredited) status.
- Agencies remain accredited for a period of three (3) years. Every three (3) years they must be reaccredited by participating in an on-site assessment process each time.
In February 2016, the agency was reviewed for the fifth (5) reaccreditation assessment. This process was for the honorary distinction of EXCELSIOR recognition, which means:
Commitment to Accreditation – Candidate agencies shall have been awarded five (5) successful reaccreditation cycles by the Commission; and
Excellence in Accreditation – A candidate agency’s reaccreditation interval shall only be credited toward this new recognition status, if conditions were not assessed by the Commission.
The word Excelsior is a Latin adjective meaning “higher” or “loftier,” used in English as an interjection with a poetic meaning of “ever upward.”
Today, the Excelsior Recognition program recognizes some of the finest criminal justice agencies in the State of Florida, and a demonstrated level of commitment to the Florida Accreditation process unparalleled in the criminal justice profession.
During the Commission meeting and agency review, the Commission provided numerous positive remarks about the Winter Park Police Department and spoke exceptionally high of all members of the agency, commenting on the agency’s unwavering commitment to providing extraordinary service to our community and the agency’s distinguished dedication to accreditation.
Accreditation is a coveted award that symbolizes professionalism, excellence, and competence. The Winter Park Police Department has proudly attained and has maintained accredited status, demonstrating to the community that we are committed to the highest standards of professional law enforcement service.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle