Port Royal on the road to police recoginition status

Port Royal is preparing to pay the price -- $10,000 for overtime -- for its police department to become nationally recognized.

As the department strives to become recognized under the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agency's Law Enforcement Recognition program,cq officers likely will be working overtime to receive additional training.

"We're not adding any officers and there's going to be significant training necessary as part of this process, so when the officers aren't working their 12-hour shifts, they may have to come in and receive training," said Town Manager Van Willis.

The program, which will cost the town a $1,570 registration fee, is a perfect fit for Port Royal's 20-officer police force, said Lt. John Griffith, Port Royal's CALEA program manager.

"We want to have the perception of being a professional agency, and earning recognition from CALEA will ultimately mean lower insurance rates for residents and lessened tort liability for the police department and the town," Griffith said. "We want to make sure that we're walking the walk and talking the talk."

To earn CALEA's approval, Port Royal must adhere to 112 guidelines, covering everything from vehicle chases to evidence collection to traffic stops.Griffith said the department is reviewing its policies and training before it signs a contract with CALEA to begin the examination process. The police department hopes to be recognized within a year, he said.

Although there are more than 30 accredited law enforcement agencies in South Carolina, there aren't any CALEA-recognized agencies in the state, according to CALEA.

The 11-officer police force at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg is the only state agency to apply for CALEA recognition and is halfway through the process, according to the program's Web site.