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911 Center receives third accreditation
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The Covington-Newton County 911 Center has received its third accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

The Covington-Newton County 911 Communications Center attended the CALEA Conference in Jacksonville, Fla., in November, where they received their Gold Standards accreditation, according to a release from the communications center.

The communications center, which employs 25 communications technicians to process its annual 124,000 calls for service, is the first public safety communications center in Georgia and the second in the world, assessed under the new review standards to receive its Gold Standards accreditation.

In Georgia, the LaGrange Police Department and the Athens/Clark County Police Department are the only two other public safety agencies that have requested and received accreditation under the GSA review process.

CALEA - an independent accreditation authority, which developed internationally accepted public safety standards - instituted the Gold Standards Assessment in 2011. The new assessment process is more difficult than the average CALEA assessment because it holds agencies to a higher performance standard.

Under the new assessment, an agency must voluntarily request permission from CALEA to be assessed under the more stringent GSA and it works to measure the impact of accreditation as opposed to simply confirming compliance through a file-by-file review.

In addition to strong organizational health and an absence of issues that detract from the professionalism of the agency, the following general criteria must be met before an agency may be considered to participate in the GSA process:

• The agency must have two previous accreditation awards at the level of accreditation currently being sought.
• The agency must not have had compliance issues in most recent assessment.
• The agency must not have had process management issues in most recent assessment.
• The agency must not currently be under a consent decree or memorandum of understanding.

Director Mike Smith said the communications center was confident in subjecting itself to the more rigorous and intrusive assessment process.

"Our people are our strongest asset and we wanted the assessors to spend more time with them so they could see for themselves how professional and effective they are and how the CALEA process has made our center better," Smith said.

According to the release, the primary benefit of accreditation is to obtain international excellence and become an internationally accepted management model that provides better services to the community, controls agency liability insurance costs, fosters administrative improvements through greater accountability and increases governmental and community support.