CRESTVIEW — Lawmen have weighed in on the decision last week by the Crestview Police Department to voluntarily withdraw from the Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission’s reaccreditation process.

Accreditation signals that agencies practice the highest law enforcement standards. To obtain state police accreditation, agencies must meet more than 265 rigorous guidelines.

Crestview's announcement piqued the interest of Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson, who served on the accreditation commission and is past-president of the Florida Sheriffs Association. He said he believes all law enforcement agencies should follow the highest professional standards available.

“I’ve seen agencies that drop accreditation for different reasons,” Adkinson said. “It’s not unheard of for agencies to surrender their accreditation when they realize there are serious issues that need to be addressed.”

Crestview City Manager Tim Bolduc, former Mayor David Cadle and Police Chief Jamie Grant said revamping the 50-year-old charter and the Police Department going through reaccreditation would be impossible to do at the same time. It’s a task that city spokesman Brian Hughes called “gargantuan.”

On Aug. 28 about 60 percent of Crestview's voters approved changing the city’s form of government from a weak mayor to a city manager-council system.

Grant was unavailable for comment Friday, but Police Maj. Andrew Schneider said the loss of accreditation would be temporary. He said the department would reapply at the beginning of 2020.

“We have to change lots of stuff with the city and our policies, too,” Schneider said. “We would have to scramble. We don’t have enough time to do it. If this had happened last year, we wouldn’t be in this predicament.”

The Police Department has a history of scandals.

Schneider said accreditation served as a "gold star" with residents.

Adkinson said the Okaloosa and Walton County sheriff’s offices and the Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission could help Crestview make it through the process and maintain its accreditation. Crestview’s three-year accreditation term ends in October.

“The commission is not draconian,” Adkinson said. “We want agencies to be successful.”

Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley, who sits on the Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission, was out of town and could not be reached for comment.

Lori Mizell with the Accreditation Commission confirmed that Crestview sent a letter stating its intention to withdraw. She said if a law enforcement agency pulls out and then reapplies, it must show three years of proof that it complied with the commission’s top-notch professional standards. Typically, it takes about 12 months for agencies to get accredited, she said.

“We focus on what needs to be addressed and not how to address it,” Mizell said.

She added that a department’s past history doesn’t factor into accreditation.

“Each individual agency in the Panhandle right now has reasonable people,” she said. “One bad person doesn’t make a bad agency.”

In September 2016 the Fort Walton Beach Police Department voluntarily halted its effort to regain state accreditation. An on-site “mock assessment” revealed alleged file maintenance issues.

Police Chief Robert Bage and Maj. Tracy Hart said the department plans to become accredited again by 2021.

Fort Walton Beach first earned the designation in 2005 and renewed it in 2008 and 2011. The commission revoked the accreditation in June 2014 when a review found that the department failed to meet training and timely reporting standards, among other shortcomings.

Bage said state accreditation means “citizens know you’re guided by high standards,” which earns police officers more confidence and trust from the community.

Earning state accreditation is rare. Only Crestview and Gulf Breeze hold the distinction among cities in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties. All three sheriff’s offices are accredited.

More than 165 law enforcement agencies in Florida are accredited.