Public has high praise at sheriff’s forum

Published 9:06 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monday, Feb. 19, the public was invited to the Board of County Commissioners Chambers to tell independent assessors of a national accreditation firm their opinion of how well the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office is fulfilling its mission.

Limited to five minutes per person, one by one, representatives from Beaufort County Schools, Department of Social Services, Board of Commissioners, N.C. Division of Community Corrections, elected officials, outreach centers, and local businesses, stood at the microphone, telling the assessors “what they really thought” about the Sheriff’s Office — and it was all good.

Chief Michael Dickey of the Fairfield, Ohio Police Department called the meeting to order, introducing himself and Capt. William Dean of the Virginia Beach, Va., Police Department, and explained the purpose of the forum—to allow the public to weigh in on whether the Sheriff’s Office complies with all 383 applicable standards necessary to achieve accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. CALEA accreditation, a strictly voluntary process, recognizes professional excellence in law enforcement agencies. First awarded to the Sheriff’s Office in 2006, each agency is reevaluated every three years to ensure the standards still apply.

Marty Paramore, Beaufort County’s Clerk of Courts, commented on the changes at the county courthouse that have taken place in recent years due to partnership with the Sheriff’s Office, among them the installation of metal detectors and strategically placed panic buttons; a sheriff’s deputy escort of court clerks transporting money to the bank.

Principal of Southside High School, Rick Anderson, spoke of the Sheriff’s Office response to the many calls during the 2010-2011 school year due to bomb threats written on the school’s bathroom walls as: “professional,” “immediate,” and that the deputies had “excellent judgment in dealing with youngsters.”

In a moment of levity, Bubs Carson, town manager of Bath, and former school administrator when several of the now-deputies were in school claimed they were “a heck of a lot better sheriffs than they were students.”

“I’m here to offer a different perspective,” said Bishop Samuel Jones, head of Purpose of God Annex Outreach Center. “I was here during a time of divide between law enforcement and the black community.”

Jones then went on to describe the collaboration between his center, which rehabilitates felons to take more meaningful roles in the community, and the sheriff’s office.

Overall, a pattern began to emerge, words used again and again in reference to the sheriff’s office and its employees: professional, well-trained, well-disciplined, a partnership.

The CALEA “Gold Standard” states that “the primary cornerstones that …distinguish CALEA from all other forms of public safety accreditation are professionalism, stewardship, integrity, diversity, independence, continuous improvement, objectivity, credibility, consistency, knowledge, experience, accountability and collaboration,” all of which were addressed by the speakers who stepped up to the microphone.