Beaufort Police to let accreditation lapse to save money, time

The Beaufort Police Department won't spend more than $7,000 in fees and manpower to maintain national law enforcement accreditation, Chief Matt Clancy says.

It's the same accreditation former Beaufort Police Chief Jeff Dowling is being paid $60,000 to help the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office earn and that the Bluffton Police Department received last year.

"We're trying to cut back on the 'nice tos' and focus more on the 'have tos,' " Clancy said. "It's a pretty expensive process, and those are resources that we want to devote to front-line services."

In July 2007, the Beaufort Police Department became the first law enforcement agency in the county to be certified by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Agencies must comply with more than 450 guidelines that cover everything from police chases to where certain files are kept.

Dowling was chief when the department was initially accredited and declined to comment on Clancy's decision to allow the certification to expire.

To maintain its accreditation, an agency must be re-certified every three years, and Clancy said it would have been too costly and time-consuming to have his officers assemble the necessary paperwork.

Clancy, however, did not criticize the decision three years ago to obtain certification.

"It's a good program because it makes you concentrate on getting your standards at the highest level and keeping them there," Clancy said. "We will still maintain all of those policies; we just won't be sending out proofs and other reports for an external review or having an on-site inspection."

City manager Scott Dadson applauded Clancy's decision.

"I think that the chief is making good use of his resources and manpower to protect and serve," Dadson said. "I think the citizens get the benefit of services at the street level, where they should be. The department will continue to uphold the same policies and standards, but the manpower cost of paperwork-oriented tasks get dropped because the department (is electing) to invest its resources at the front line."