One by one, representatives of offices from local law enforcement agencies, civic organizations, the Chamber of Commerce, Homeland Security and the city school system stepped forward to the podium to express their satisfaction with Johnson City’s police department.
“If the Johnson City department isn’t worthy of reaccreditation, I’m not sure of an organization that is,” said Craig Ford, director of Public Safety in Jonesborough.
Ford highlighted situations where Jonesborough required extra help with local events, and were stretched thin with their 17-person team.
“There were lots of special events where we’ve needed help with those,” Ford said. “And Johnson City was there for us.”
That seemed to be a trend among the audience, which totaled around two dozen people.
“Johnson City has always been first to respond to any request we had,” Regional Advisor for Homeland Security’s Jerry Stout said.
The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc., or CALEA, based out of Gainesville, Va., will conduct its own review and couple it with the comments of the speakers to decide if the Johnson City Police Department will earn their sixth reaccreditation.
1993 marked the first year that the department earned its accreditation, and it has been reaccredited in 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010. Accreditation lasts for three years, during which the organization must submit annual reports to stay in compliance with the standards.
Jason Cassalia, team leader of the assessors, said police departments seeking accreditation are voluntarily seeking professional excellence. His team is made of those involved with law enforcement from out-of-state agencies.
The department must be in accordance with 388 standards in order to maintain its status as an accredited organization, police chief Mark Sirois said.
Sirois received personal praise from the vast majority of those who spoke.
Major Russell Jamerson, of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, cited his office’s working relationship with the Johnson City Police.
“They’re a great organization,” Jamerson said. “You’re not going to find a police chief who cares more about his city than Mark Sirois.”
The police were tabbed as being a department evolving with the ever-changing safety concerns in schools and in the community.
Greg Wallace, from Johnson City Schools, also spoke of a close collaboration with the Johnson City Police.
“Post Newtown, the police immediately provided extra support to make the community feel safe,” Wallace said, referring to the December shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that killed 26 students and staff members.
For more information regarding the process, call 1-800-368-3757.