CRESTVIEW — The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office is now Northwest Florida's first, and only, law enforcement agency awarded National Accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

The CALEA program is the primary method for an agency to voluntarily demonstrate its commitment to excellence. Fewer than 5 percent of the nation's 18,000 law enforcement agencies are nationally accredited.

Standards focus on department policies, and operational procedures such as police training, use of force, emergency preparedness and accountability. Compliance with these standards means a law enforcement agency follows a code of conduct recognized by law enforcement peers, the legal system and the public, and it meets the best professional requirements and practices for agencies nationwide.  

The OCSO — awarded the honor Nov. 21 at CALEA’s  winter conference — "is committed to providing enhanced service to the citizens of Okaloosa County, while upholding the highest standards of law enforcement practices in training, policies and procedures,” Sheriff Larry Ashley said. “Our agency earned statewide accreditation from the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation in July 2010.

"… We believe this commitment puts us among the nation’s leaders in law enforcement professional development.”