Saturday, Nov 22, 2014
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Brooksville police get top score on reaccreditation

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BROOKSVILLE – Last week, a team of law enforcement officers from the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA) recommended the Brooksville Police Department be reaccredited. And, according to Police Chief George Turner, they passed with flying colors.

“We were in 100 percent compliance of everything,” Turner said.

Turner said the assessment team was on site Tuesday through Thursday, and reviewed the department on 261 standards that included law enforcement techniques and use of force, evidence procedures and spending. The team inspected equipment, participated in ride-alongs, toured the communications center at the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and interacted with local residents.

The assessment team was lead by Capt. Alan Fuhrman of the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, and team members included June Esposito of the Port Canaveral Police Department and retired Sgt. Peter Loomis of the Maitland Police Department. At the end of the week, Turner said the team sat down with him, City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha and other key staff at the police department.

“The team leader said this was one of the easiest assessments he’s been a part of,” Turner said, adding he had 16 years of accreditation experience. “I was almost a little embarrassed sitting there, listening to them singing our praises in the final report, just saying there was absolutely nothing they could point out to us that we needed to change. We always look for how we can change for the better and do better.”

Turner said he was extremely proud of his department, and grateful to city staff, city council and the sheriff’s office, where supervisors in the communications center kept up on necessary standards so the department could maintain accreditation.

“They were very impressed with the working relationship between the Brooksville Police Department and Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.”

Turner said when he was hired as chief in 2007, getting the agency accredited was one of his promises and top priorities that needed to get accomplished in a short time. The department hired Sgt. Robert Dixon in 2009 as accreditation manager, and the agency was accredited for the first time in 2011.

With the reaccreditation, Brooksville joins 145 Florida agencies with the distinction, out of a total of 445 agencies across the state.

The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office was previously accredited by the CFA, but did not seek reaccreditation in 2011 as a measure to cut costs.

Turner said the accreditors also were impressed with the department’s level of training and continuing training, and said the department “exceeded” that in other agencies.

“Obviously everything is based on training. If we don’t train, we can’t do a good job,” Turner said.

The chief added he hopes Brooksville can working toward becoming a training facility for law enforcement agencies.

City council member Lara Bradburn sent a letter out on Monday, praising Turner and the department.

“What the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement has awarded is more than a sheet of paper. Much, much more. It verifies what those close to the Department already know — that the level of professionalism, accountability and quality public service has reached an all-time high ... Again!”

Turner wasn’t sure if three years ago Brooksville had the “worst arrest and conviction rate in the tri-state area,” as Bradburn wrote, but said his agency has the best rate these days.

Brooksville Police had a 49 percent closure rate in 2013, as compared to the state average of 25 percent.

“And we’re not handling as many crimes as the city of Miami, but we handle the same type of crimes, major felonies and minor cases as well,” Turner said.

“Three years from now, I plan to be sitting here and have a third accreditation under our belt,” Turner said. “We’re striving to be on the cutting-edge of training in law enforcement.”

wbiddlecombe@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5283

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