SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — There are more than 500 police departments in Georgia. One hundred twenty-nine of them are state certified, meaning they’ve implemented an exhaustive list of standards required by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.
As of Tuesday night, the Social Circle Police Department is one of them, joining Monroe as the only certified departments in the county.
“It’s more than policies and procedures, it’s about changing a culture of a department,” Stacey Cotton, Covington’s police chief and a former executive director of GACP, said before presenting the accreditation plaque to Social Circle police Chief Tyrone Oliver.
Every other member of the department was also on hand to receive the award.
The process of winning accreditation involves applying and documenting 139 best practices for law enforcement and then being evaluated by GACP.
This involves spelling out how the department handles everything from car chases to injured detainees to hiring new officers.
Then, GACP evaluates the department every three years to make sure those standards are being met.
In exchange, the department holds about $10,000 less liability and is less likely to attract a lawsuit, Oliver said.
Plus, Oliver said, accreditation is typically a five-year process, but Social Circle finished in just over two years.
“The department as a whole is very proud of this accomplishment. It means a lot to the men and women of this department,” he said.
“The police accreditation recognizes the outstanding work and culture of our police department, its leadership, certification staff, and its officers,” City Manager Adele Schirmer. said
“This is a standard of excellence met, and that must be maintained, and monitored by outside reviewers. We appreciate the support of the mayor and Council, and community in this effort and I commend Chief Oliver and every member of the Police Department.”
Oliver said Kathy Esque, the department’s administrative head, played an outsized role in earning the recognition. She was the one who did most of legwork documenting and codifying standards.
“My hat’s off to Kathy Esque,” he said.
“She’s done a phenomenal job. She basically put this all together.”