The Columbia County Sheriff's Office received praise from residents attending a Monday meeting to discuss the agency's re-accreditation.
"I think our department shines," said Jean Garniewicz, who has lived here for 23 years and is a part of the sheriff's office Citizens Auxiliary Unit. "They are a very proactive sheriff's office. They are a fine group of men and women, and I'm very proud to say that I know a lot of them."
A team of assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies started their evaluation of the sheriff's office Dec. 14 and remained in the county until Wednesday. They reviewed files and documentation, and spoke with the public and sheriff's office staff.
The assessment team was headed by Chief J. Marc Duguay of the Broward County Sheriff's Office in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was assisted by Lt. Teia Poulin of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and Gerald Griffin of the Frederick County Sheriff's Office in Frederick, Md.
"I have seen deputies help women with children get them in the car," Garniewicz said. "I've watched deputies stop on the side of the road and help somebody in the rain change their tire."
The sheriff's office, a size D organization, is required to comply with 460 standards to gain its accredited status. The Columbia County Detention Center and the sheriff's office Communications Center are accredited separately from the sheriff's office.
"We're impressed about how much volunteerism there is here," Duguay said. "I know things are going very well for us."
John Murrell, a Martinez resident and manager for the central warehouse of the Columbia County School System, said his thoughts about the sheriff's office echo those by Garniewicz.
"I primarily gave up my evening tonight to share with you all that we probably have the best law enforcement (agency) in the country," he said.
Murrell said his son recently became a part of the sheriff's office and loves his job.
"They're just a fine group of people," he said. "I'm just proud, and I wish the other 99,000 citizens that live here in Columbia County could fit in this room tonight (because) they'd probably echo the same praise."
Those who wish to give comments can write to the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc. at 10302 Eaton Place, Suite 100, Fairfax, VA 22030-2215.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.