The Dawson County Sheriff's Office has temporarily withdrawn from a state certification program for law enforcement agencies and plans to seek certification again next spring.
Sheriff Billy Carlisle sent a letter to the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police on July 20 requesting to voluntarily withdraw from the program.
"I knew we weren't going to be ready for the onsite assessment," Carlisle said Wednesday.
"I called them before they were scheduled to be here for the assessment and told them we weren't going to be ready."
According to the association's website, "certification acknowledges the implementation of policies and procedures that are conceptually sound and operationally effective."
Carlisle said the department will not lose any grants or funding due to the temporary withdrawal.
Participation in the certification program by law enforcement agencies is totally voluntary.
Carlisle received notification Wednesday that his request to withdraw and re-apply later has been granted.
"I can understand your predicament and your decision to withdraw," program director D. Mike Edwards wrote in the letter. "Personally and professionally, I look forward to your re-entry into the certification program next year."
Carlisle will be able to re-apply for state certification on March 31.
"We'll be ready at that time, and we'll also be ready to apply to have the jail certified and our inmate medical wing certified, too," he said.
According to Carlisle, an onsite assessment is required every three years to maintain certification. At that time, program representatives review hundreds of records and criteria required for re-certification.
With numerous management shifts and budget cuts within the department in recent months, Carlisle said it was no one person's fault the department was not ready for the assessment.
"I accept the responsibility for this, and now we have the time we need to get our ducks in a row before we re-apply in March," he said.
Bob Bolz, the department's training officer, is working with each division of the sheriff's office to have the required information properly documented for the April 1 onsite re-assessment.
Carlisle said he obviously did not want to withdraw from the program but knew it was the wisest choice.
"I withdrew from this because on July 19 I didn't have all the proofs on all my policies, because we have been changing a lot of policies," Carlisle said. "We're still providing the same level of service, following the same policies, doing everything we are supposed to be doing."
Frank V. Rotondo, executive director for the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, agrees Carlisle made the right choice in asking to temporarily withdraw from the program.
"This was a wise and prudent choice and gives them time to regroup and get all the paperwork in order," Rotondo said. "He (Carlisle) has shown to be a progressive law enforcement person and I'm sure we'll see his department back in the program."
The Dawson County Sheriff's Office was endorsed as a Georgia State Certified Law Enforcement Operation in 2008.