An accreditation program for a law enforcement agency has long been recognized as a means of maintaining the highest standards of professionalism. Accreditation is the certification by an independent reviewing authority that an entity has met specific requirements and prescribed standards. Law enforcement agencies in Florida can attain accredited status through the Commission for the Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation.
In July 2017, a commission evaluation team visited Apopka to inspect all aspects of the police department, review extensive paperwork, interview staff and observe daily operations. As part of the accreditation process, Apopka had to comply with approximately 260 professional standards. They released this statement after the inspection:
“It is without reservation the assessment team recommends to the Commission that the Apopka Police Department be reviewed favorably for initial accreditation status.”
In October 2017, the APD was recognized as among the top law enforcement agencies in Florida, achieving its first-ever standards accreditation from the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation.
It was a process that included sheriffs, chiefs, judges, and other law enforcement executives who reviewed detailed evaluations of Apopka’s police operations, procedures, facilities, and equipment. The police department worked through the exhaustive accreditation process for 18 months.
“This was a goal for the Apopka Police Department for a number of years, and staff worked tirelessly to update policies and procedures and complete each required standard,” said Police Chief Michael McKinley. “This recognition will put the Apopka Police Department in an elite group of professional law enforcement agencies that meet or exceed law enforcement industry standards.”
And now the process to maintain that high standard continues.
Over the past couple of weeks, the APD has conducted a series of inspections that included McKinley reviewing the vehicles, uniforms, and weapons of each officer. It is all part of the process for maintaining its accreditation status.
“I’m very pleased,” said APD Chief Mickael McKinley. “Everybody’s equipment is in good shape. We’re very blessed in the city of Apopka to have quality equipment. Most of our cars are relatively new, although some of them are approaching five years old and they still look good. It’s all about the officers taking care of their cars.”
McKinley explained that vehicle inspection is a task that was done even before the APD was accredited.
“It’s something we do annually as part of the accreditation process. But it’s also something the APD did before I was here, and we continue to do it.”
“We do a lot of inspections involving work areas, auditing evidence, and property,” said Deputy Chief Randy Fernandez. “It’s not just a spot check in the evidence room for some of the high liability items. It’s a thorough check to make sure every one of those items is in the room… so there’s a lot of standards that we have to comply with throughout the year.”
And while these inspections are required for accreditation, they are also a chance for APD officers to connect more closely with Fernandez and McKinley.
“It gives me the opportunity to see everybody and see if their uniforms fit properly and they have all the equipment they need,” said McKinley.
“It gives us a chance to see every single person in the department,” said Fernandez. “We get the opportunity to talk to them, see what their needs are because a lot of times people don’t ask for something, but if you get one-on-one with them the needs and wants come out… which might make the job easier and we try to accommodate them.”
These are city assets. They belong to the community and we want to ensure we’re taking care of them.”
Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson also attended the inspection and was impressed with the procedure.
“It was great to be a part of the annual APD inspections,” he said. “Chief McKinley made sure that each of our officers had the right equipment in working order.”