FCSO starting state accreditation

Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino talks about seeking state accreditation for his agency at the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee meeting Monday at the County Office Building in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office is starting the process of accreditation with the state, focusing on its Road Patrol Division.

Sheriff Richard Giardino told the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee Monday that the sheriff’s department is pursuing accreditation through the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.

He said accreditation requires policies and procedures “above the minimum” for all agencies.

Giardino said sheriff’s offices have the right to seek accreditation for the whole agency, or just one component.

“I thought it would be smarter to start with one division,” the sheriff said.

He said the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office would have to comply with numerous standards set by the DCJS. In accordance with his department’s recent Fulton County Police Reform and Reinvention Plan approved last month, he sought permission to commence the process of accreditation.

It was noted during Monday’s session that Fulton County submitted its plan by Thursday, as required by state executive action.

The Public Safety Committee voted to allow Giardino to commence the accreditation process, which will be voted on April 12 by the full board.

Giardino said the Gloversville Police Department is accredited, and the Johnstown Police Department is in the process of “redoing” its accreditation. It is a tool by which police agencies can say they met certain standards.

According to DCJS, New York state’s program became operational in 1989 and encompasses four principle goals: To increase the effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement agencies utilizing existing personnel, equipment and facilities to the extent possible; to promote increased cooperation and coordination among law enforcement agencies and other agencies of the criminal justice services; to ensure the appropriate training of law enforcement personnel; and to promote public confidence in law enforcement agencies.

Giardino said he will assign members of his agency to work on bringing the agency in compliance with state requirements to make the sheriff’s office an accredited agency.

He said the office would have to comply with over 100 New York state policies and procedures to become accredited after a state review. He said the process commenced years ago and the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office is currently in compliance with all required minimum DCJS law enforcement agency standards.

Giardino said the accreditation work for the Road Patrol Division would be assigned to existing members of the agency, and he is not seeking additional funds.

He told supervisors he doesn’t anticipate needing more funds in the “planning stage” for accreditation. But he said there may be mandates down the road, such as body cameras.

“We think the state and federal governments are going to mandate body cams,” Giardino said.

Even so, he said there may be some funding made available for body cameras.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead asked how many sheriff’s offices in New York state are DCJS-accredited at this point.

Giardino responded that he thinks about 50 percent. He said some have all divisions accredited, while others have “some aspect.”

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