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Sheriff’s Office earns state certification
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The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office earned its state law enforcement recertification and received the award from Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch on behalf of the Georgia State Law Enforcement Certification program Aug. 31. - photo by Jessica Taylor

The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office recently received the news that it has been recertified as a Georgia State Certified Law Enforcement agency. The office is one of only 22 in the state to have that designation.

Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch, who serves on the board of directors of the Georgia State Law Enforcement Certification program, came to the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 31 to present an award to Sheriff Jeff Johnson and his staff commemorating the agency’s achievement.

“Basically what (certification is) is making sure that you’re doing the right thing in the right way and this sheriff’s office is doing just that. It also represents a very significant professional achievement for the agency,” Couch said. “State certification is not given. It’s earned. Each and every member of this agency has to earn that certification.”

Certification is a voluntary program through the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police and is re-evaluated every three years.

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Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson accepted the State of Georgia Law Enforcement certification from Hall County Sheriff and Georgia State Law Enforcement Certification program board member Gerald Couch at the sheriff’s office Aug. 31. - photo by Jessica Taylor

The DCSO was first endorsed as a Georgia State Certified Law Enforcement Operation in 2008 and was the seventh sheriff’s office in the state to become state certified.

In order to be recertified, the agency needed to meet 129 standards in eight areas of law enforcement.

Proof that the agency has followed all 129 standards can be a photo or news story, incident reports and arrest summaries that demonstrate how officers adhere to the given standards.

Capt. Ray Goodie of the DCSO’s office of professional standards has been keeping detailed folders of all eight areas that were presented to the assessors from the police chiefs’ association. He was also awarded with a certificate of appreciation from the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.

“It takes a lot of hard work to earn this but you’ve got to have the tip of the spear and that’s what Capt. Goodie is. He’s done a fine, fine job,” Couch said.

During Friday’s event Dawsonville Mayor Mike Eason and former City of Cumming police chief explained that recertification is more in-depth and requires more work to achieve. While it’s one thing to become certified, it’s another to maintain that achievement, he said.

“The validation of your recertification is more important than your certification because they look at all those points to make sure that during the past three years that you have done in every field what you’re supposed to be documenting,” Eason said.

Prior to serving as mayor, Eason served as police chief for four years and worked as a special agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for over 30 years, and remembers firsthand the importance of state certification.

 “It’s not just you do it when (the assessors) come,” Eason said. “You do it during the time that you’re certified and you have to keep a folder on every policy and examples of how it’s been followed.”

Johnson emphasized the importance of the certification as the DCSO is one of only a few in the state that can claim the title.

“The honor goes to the men and women of this office. They’re the ones that every day that are out on the front lines and doing what needs to be done and adhering to the policies,” Johnson said.  “Certification is not a weak process… This is an ongoing everyday thing. You’re looking at things, you’re reviewing policies, you’re reviewing the incidents to make sure they’re compliant with policies. It’s really an undertaking but Capt. Goodie, my hat’s off to you.”

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Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch awarded Capt. Ray Goodie a certificate of appreciation from the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police for his ongoing work to ensure the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office maintains its state certification. - photo by Jessica Taylor

Couch explained some of the benefits that come with being a state certified agency. It confirms that agency practices are consistent with professional standards, increases operation and administrative effectiveness, provides officers with enhanced understanding of policies and practices and increases public confidence in the agency as well as governmental and community support.

 “You have a fine, fine sheriff and you have fine sheriff’s office – one to be very, very proud of,” Couch said. “It’s good to know if things get a little rough we’ve got folks we can call on and vice versa.”

Johnson was also recently appointed to serve on the Georgia Commission on Family Violence by Gov. Nathan Deal. The GCFV is a state agency that strives to provide leadership to end family violence by promoting safety, ensuring accountability and improving justice for generations to come.

“I look forward to serving with an outstanding group of leaders throughout our state,” Johnson said. “I am certain that collectively we can work together to enjoy successes in our state and our county.”