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Barrow Sheriff's Office achieves state certification

WINDER -- Of 159 sheriff's offices in Georgia, only 20 have been recognized by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police as a State Certified Law Enforcement Agency.

The Barrow County Sheriff's Office is one of them, officials announced this week.

The certification is the culmination of several years of work toward meeting the high standards of professionalism and transparency required by the association to earn approval, said Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Matt Guthas.

"Our commitment to excellence and accountability is never-ending," Sheriff Jud Smith said in a release. "We could not have accomplished this if our employees were not committed as well. It is an honor."

To be certified, an organization must be in compliance with hundreds of standards ranging from the employment process, training, to the actual services law enforcement provides.

Not only must certified agencies have policies in place that represent the most current and best law enforcement practices, they must also prove their practices line up with their policies, Guthas said.

The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police describes the certification program as "a progressive and time-proven way of helping law enforcement agencies calculate and improve their overall performance ... Certification acknowledges the implementation of policies and procedures that are conceptually sound and operationally effective," the association's website reads.

In Gwinnett County, the Sheriff's Department, county police department and Gwinnett Public Schools police are state-certified, along with other agencies.