TALLAHASSEE — Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson has announced the reaccreditation of his Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement (AgLaw) following a rigorous review by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA). The office first gained accreditation in 2007 and in April was re-evaluated for renewal of that status. For the first time, the department’s Inspector General’s Office has also received accreditation following a full on-site visit.
The CFA reviews all aspects of an agency’s policies and procedures, management, operations and support systems to verify compliance with 276 recognized standards of excellence. Accreditation by the CFA is voluntary but considered a significant accomplishment and this status is held in high esteem by the criminal justice community.
“This meticulous review of the facilities, personnel and programs within AgLaw measures our professionalism in a meaningful way, ensuring we meet the high standards dictated by law enforcement across the state and the nation,” Bronson said. “The Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement has continued to expand its duties and responsibilities over the years in protecting our citizens and visitors and clearly our peers have determined we are meeting and exceeding expectations.”
AgLaw officers play a vital role in preventing plant and animal diseases from entering the state, protecting consumers from fraudulent business practices and food safety violations and investigating arson crimes occurring on wild lands in Florida. AgLaw’s 23 interdiction stations inspect 12 million commercial vehicles that enter and leave the state each year and in recent years have become an integral part of domestic security efforts in Florida. Officers have seized millions of dollars in drugs, stolen property and other contraband at the stations.
Accredited agencies are required to ensure that officers are properly trained, that processes for fair hiring and discipline are in place, and that clear policies and procedures are instituted for officers to follow. Certain equipment standards must also be maintained to retain accreditation.
The CFA recently established standards for accreditation for Office of Inspectors General. The department’s Office of Inspector General began the process of complying with the accreditation standards in late 2009 and had its inspection in April 2010. The CFA also reviews all aspects of the Office of Inspector General’s Investigation Section. The CFA verifies compliance with 40 recognized standards of excellence pertaining to policies, operations and procedures. These standards are all mandatory and include requirements for training, internal investigation guidelines, and establishing an investigative staff code of ethics. The Office of Inspector General received an outstanding review with no deficiencies found by the assessors. The Office of Inspector General went before the CFA on July 1, 2010, to receive their Certificate of Accreditation and became the fourth State Office of Inspectors General to be accredited. The Office of Inspector General’s accreditation will be for a three-year term.