The Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office is nationally accredited for the first time ever.

The local agency received the designation Nov. 15 from The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA, based in Gainesville. Earning accreditation followed an extensive, months-long process that required scrutiny and assessments by outside assessors. It is considered by many in law enforcement to be the gold standard in public safety.

It means the CCSO met 181 national law enforcement standards covering everything from body searches, use of force, weapons proficiency and command protocol to victim-witness services, physical fitness, harassment, motor vehicle pursuits and mental health issues, among others.

Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins, reelected two weeks ago to a third term in office, said it was a great honor to achieve the national recognition, shared by only three other sheriff’s offices in Virginia—including Alexandria County, Hampton City and Hanover County.

“I am honored to have a diverse staff of men and women who are dedicated to serving and to provide Culpeper County residents a safe and secure environment in which to live, work and play,” Jenkins said.

The now-accredited agency will continue to provide such an environment, he added, by enforcing the laws of Culpeper County, Virginia and the United States of America.

“As guided by the rule of law, we protect life, secure property, maintain order and safeguard constitutional liberties,” said Jenkins, who has been in law enforcement for nearly 30 years.

The CALEA Assessment Report for CCSO profiled various aspects of the agency, including its chief executive officer. The report narrative described Jenkins as “a recognized thought leader in the areas of Second Amendment rights, secure communities, constitutional government and law enforcement,” adding, “He is recognized for his no-nonsense but compassionate approach to law enforcement.”

Seeking national accreditation, also in place at the Culpeper Police Department, is voluntary, with participating agencies meeting an established set of professional standards.

Among the requirements, according to CCSO Lt. D.A. Holmes, CALEA accreditation manager with the local agency, are: uniform written directives that clearly define authority, performance, and responsibilities; reports and analyses to make fact-based and informed management decisions; preparedness to address natural or man-made critical incidents; community relationship-building and maintenance; independent review by subject matter experts and continuous pursuit of excellence through annual reviews and other assessment measures.

In March, outside assessors—Dennis Nelson, Warden of the Clayton County, Georgia Correctional Institution, and Brent Grammel, a police officer with the Union Township Police Department in Cincinnati, Ohio—visited Culpeper to accept public comments, conduct interviews and observe the local agency at work.

Areas of focus included patrol deputy assignments, criminal investigations procedures, crime prevention programs, school security, evidence storage and court security, according to the CALEA Assessment Report. The assessment team conducted 35 interviews with agency members and community leaders.

According to the CALEA report, the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office was established in 1761 under the direction of Colonial Sheriff William Brown. He was appointed to perform many functions including collecting taxes, summoning juries, housing prisoners for trial and superintending elections.

“So powerful was the office of sheriff that terms were normally limited to one year,” the report stated. “In the early days, the building located at 132 W. Davis St. was part of the jail. The jailer and his family lived at the jail and his wife’s primary function was to cook for the inmates.”

Today’s CCSO has 110 sworn deputies and 18 civilian employees. Five 911 dispatchers are county employees.

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