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After two years of hard work, preparation and planning, the Bluffton Police Department was awarded national accreditation last week.
The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, a national organization that sets standards for police departments, presented Bluffton Police Chief David McAllister with a certificate Friday during a meeting in Raleigh, N.C.
"This is an outward symbol to the citizens that we will earn their trust and that we have a high level of professionalism," McAllister said. "We believe the citizens are owed that from their police agencies."
CALEA inspectors visited Bluffton in January to evaluate the department's policies, practices and standards, as well as its equipment and tactics. The department scored 100 percent on the mandatory-standards requirements in that evaluation.
The accreditation will lower insurance rates for the Police Department and help when applying for grants. But McAllister said what the accreditation symbolizes is most important.
"You wouldn't go to a doctor that isn't accredited, and you wouldn't go to a college that isn't accredited," he said. " ... This just shows the public that we hold ourselves to a high standard and operate in a highly professional manner."
To maintain the accreditation, the department will be evaluated every three years and must show it has maintained CALEA standards.
According to CALEA's Web site, about 1,000 agencies across the country have earned accreditation through the agency.
The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office also is working on CALEA accreditation.