The Metter Police Department recently achieved state certification, a three-year contractual program through the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police that assesses 129 different standards, said Metter police Capt. Kevin Wadley.
“Less than 18 percent of law enforcement agencies in the state possess this certification, and we are now one of them,” he said.
Wadley is the certification manager for the department. State certification is not mandated and simply means the certified department has policies that meet the state’s recommendations.
“The primary purpose of state certification is to demonstrate that we are compliant with what the state has determined to be crucial areas of law enforcement practices for agencies in the state of Georgia,” he said. “It also has served the purpose to restore faith in the Metter Police Department by the citizens of Candler County.”
Metter police began the certification process in July 2018.
“The standards that must be met for certification include report writing and documentation, training and overall functionality of the policy and procedures for the department,” he said. “During this transition we assessed our evidence and property rooms, and created policy to effectively change the way we processed, stored and accounted for departmental evidence.”
Wadley used a program called PowerDMS to “build and store electronic files to demonstrate the necessary documentation to show that the agency is in compliance with state standards,” he said.
Gaining state certification is a significant step for the Metter Police Department.
“All members of the agency were brand new to this process, and all members complied with pertinent areas of concern for certification compliance,” he said.
The certification process took the department 13 months to complete, Wadley said.
Metter police made several changes in policies and procedures to meet the state standards. These included vehicle pursuits, use of force, report writing and evidence processing, which “were critical areas of training for all members,” he said.
“We also trained on forcible vehicle stopping with a new Stinger Spike Strip system along with Electrical Charged Weapons (ECW), also known as Tasers.”
In-service training for departmental needs was assessed under certification standards as well. According to Wadley, critical task training addressed 12 different areas of mandatory training for all members of the agency. They also revised evidence processing, “reforming the way we processed and stored evidence within the agency and evidence and property rooms.”
“As part of this process, we have seen a higher level of productivity amongst the members of the agency, and we have also seen a steady decline in crime in Metter over the past 6 to 12 months,” he said.
The Metter Police Department is dedicated to maintaining certification in the future. Certification is not permanent but must be readdressed periodically when the current certification expires.
“This process gives us a good protocol to follow to show transparency with the department,” he said. “We will continue the certification process for the next three years when we have our re-certification assessment.”
The Metter Police Department, led by Chief Robert Shore, may be reached at (912) 685-5437.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.