Editor’s Note: This is the 15th in a series of 24 articles published by The Apopka Voice in 2017 that were among the most noteworthy. We will post all of them from December 26th and December 31st. Then on Monday, January 1st we will poll our readers and let them decide which is Apopka’s biggest story of 2017.

First published November 1st, 2017

Story #15: An 18-month goal is realized as the APD is acknowledged as one of the top agencies in Florida

From the City of Apopka Public Information Office

 The Apopka Police Department was recognized today among the top law enforcement agencies in Florida, achieving its first-ever standards accreditation from the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation. 

The police department was recognized at a meeting in Weston, FL by the Commission, which includes 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. 

 In July, 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. 

 The Commission meets three times per year to oversee the accreditation program and to officially accredit agencies that passed the rigorous review process. The evaluation team leader reported: “It is without reservation the assessment team recommends to the Commission that the Apopka Police  Department be reviewed favorably for initial accreditation status.” 

 “This has been 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.” 

 The accreditation team acknowledged that Apopka exceeded minimum state and accreditation standards regarding officer training and that Apopka officers were skilled, well versed in policy, and at one point reported to the commission that, “…it was clear to the assessment team that the Apopka Police Department was dedicated to the accreditation process.” 

 Benefits of accreditation include the department’s obligation to conduct a complete review of agency policies and practices to ensure they are consistent with modern policing concepts. Confirming the agency not only has modern policies in place but that the officers are applying them effectively and consistently, increases the law enforcement agency’s ability to prevent and control crime. This also verifies it is providing consistent, modern, and transparent services to the public, ensuring high public confidence in the agency. 

 “The final assessment of everything we did, from how we dispatched calls, to how we investigated crimes, to how we handled petty cash, were reviewed by an independent team,” said Deputy Chief Randy Fernandez. “This critical evaluation went well, and nothing makes me more honored than to work with this city and the men and women of this police department.” 

 The inspection team consisted of law enforcement members who work in similarly situated departments. The consistent remark from the team members was that Apopka’s personnel were excited and appreciative of the review. Chief McKinley, during the review, noted: “We have great equipment, a supportive city, and good benefits, but the knowledge, warmth, and welcoming attitude of our personnel was more than the accreditation team had seen with other assessments.” The accreditation is valid for three years, and the agency will be required to maintain compliance with applicable standards. 

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