Desoto County News

Southaven Police continues accreditation process

Police departments in other communities have it. The DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department has it. And now the Southaven Police Department wants it too.  

Southaven Police have been in the process of receiving Mississippi Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission, or MSLEAC, accreditation for the past two years. MSLEAC was established and the state accreditation program was started in July 2004. It was established based on similar programs in other states across the country.  

Why be accredited? Sgt. Tarah Crum, who is in charge of the accreditation process for the Southaven department, says it becomes a road map of sorts to review policies and procedures. 

“The goal of accreditation is to achieve the title showing that we are a professional organization that still believes in the mission of police work, but values structure and accountability,” Crum said. “Accreditation also empowers the officers because it confirms that they have access to all necessary information and training in order to perform at their highest level.”

Hernando Police Department has been accredited with MSLEAC and also has CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc.) accreditation since Feb. 2020. Chief Shane Ellis said the goals for both organizations are the same.  

“They are to strengthen crime prevention and control capabilities, formalize essential management procedures, establish fair and nondiscriminatory personnel practices, improve service delivery, solidify inter-agency cooperation and coordination; and boost citizen and staff confidence in the agency,” Ellis said. 

He went on to say there are several benefits to having been accredited: controlled liability insurance costs, stronger defense against lawsuits and citizen complaints, greater accountability within the agency, staunch support from government officials; and increased community advocacy.

Crum said that in 2019, the Board of Aldermen approved funding for what is called the Power DMS software program for the police department. It is a tool that helps perform and track compliance with MSLEAC accreditation.  

“It is also our database that stores our policies,” Crum said. “It is an advanced app that streamlines accessing our policies. Officers have the app on their phones and can reference policy if they have a simple question in the field; such as, what form should be filled out for a particular service call.”

Among other local law enforcement departments, the Olive Branch Police Department was accredited by CALEA during Don Gammage’s tenure as police chief. Current Chief Bill Cox has solidly committed his department to continue.  

“MSLEAC Accreditation requires agencies to meet 140 standards yearly,” said Olive Branch Police Major LeAnn Farr. “CALEA Tier One Accreditation requires 168 standards and Olive Branch also meets 36 MSLEAC standards to obtain Mississippi Accreditation.  Stats on Use of Force, Pursuits, Hiring, Demographics, Traffic Tickets, Grievances and Complaints are also maintained yearly and reviewed for compliance.”

Crum said of the 140 standards, there are 25 that are not applicable in the Southaven department’s case.

“This is due to not having the program or facility in question,” Crum said. “We do not have a reserve officer program or an auxiliary program.  We also are not an agency that is responsible for sex offender registration.  There is also a section specifically for jail/detention facilities.  We do not have to meet these standards because we do not provide these services.”

Last year, CALEA accredited the Olive Branch department for another four years, with current Chief Cox telling an Olive Branch Rotary meeting, “What this does for us is it allows us to see decreased liability insurance costs, which translates to fewer civil lawsuits, and improved community relationships by demonstrating our accountability. It gives us better resource management and it improves officer morale.”

Olive Branch became the first department in DeSoto County and North Mississippi, and the eighth in Mississippi, to be accredited, receiving that recognition in 2009. 

The DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department has been MSLEAC accredited since 2010. 

Crum said Southaven officials are now in the process of completing an audit before a final “verdict” that the police has met all of the required standards before officially being accredited. 

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