Sheriff Ezell Brown poses with the plaque presented to him by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police designating the NCSO as having been certified by the State of Georgia Law Enforcement Certification Program. Only 76 sheriff's offices in the state have achieved that distinction. - Special photo
COVINGTON -- The 250 employees at the Newton County Sheriff's Office are celebrating along with Sheriff Ezell Brown after attaining a milestone in the agency's history. They have received state certification by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, making them one of fewer than 100 agencies in Georgia with that distinction.
"Everyone here worked so hard in the last two years to make sure we achieved this goal," Brown said. "It was not only an effort by me. It was a vision by me and I shared that with my command staff and all of the employees here and all saw fit to get on board to make sure we were transparent, to make sure we operate within our policies, to make sure when you read one incident report, it would mirror the next officer's report. With all of the challenges we've faced from 2009 until now, I look at each and every one of the employees as a hero."
Brown said the process was a major undertaking and entailed rewriting and revising each and every one of the policies and procedures used at the department. There are approximately 120 different criteria which must be met to achieve certification.
"Certification is a self-initiated process by which law enforcement agencies strive to meet and preserve stands that have been established for the profession by the profession," Brown explained, adding that the standards covered everything from emergency response planning, training, use of force, vehicle pursuit, property and evidence handling to holding facilities and prisoner transportation.
"This certification not only sets standards for the law enforcement agency, but also for the delivery of law enforcement services to the citizens of Newton County," the sheriff said.
Brown praised not only his employees for the agency's success in achieving certification, but said the community played a role as well. He cited the community's willingness to work with the sheriff's office, pass on needed tips to solve crimes and participate in programs like Neighborhood Watch and other community outreach events.
Brown was also quick to give praise to his predecessors.
"We built on the success of others. We had two other great sheriffs here at the Sheriff's Office: Sheriff (Gerald) Malcom and Sheriff (Joe) Nichols. We built on their success," he said, adding that they made changes and improvements during the years they served. "With their unselfishness they were able to lay some of the foundation and we were able to build on their success and capitalize on those things that we must do to provide the best of service through the Sheriff's Office."
The certification lasts for three years, and at the end of that time, the department will be examined to make sure they are maintaining and are still in compliance with each of the standards.
Brown said a department celebration would be held in the near future in which the formal state certification will be presented.