The Pulaski Star received some negative feedback from a handful of readers this week after suggesting accreditation for the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office is in the best interests of the community. It just so happens the current Sheriff believes the idea has merit, too.
“Accreditation of Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office has been a goal of mine,” Mike Worrell said in a recent video released on YouTube.
After saying accreditation is something he would like to attain, he said budget concerns might prevent the Sheriff’s Office from pursuing it.
“…It’s my job to investigate the true costs of such a program. Many times, we only hear the initial direct startup costs only to find out the indirect costs associated with it are too cumbersome to continue the program,” Worrell said in the video.
“I’m a firm believer in confirming and reconfirming information so that all the factors are known upfront,” Worrell concluded in his statement.
At least three of the four Pulaski County Sheriff’s candidates have now mentioned accreditation in their campaign.
Worrell has stated it is a “goal” of his, Mike Honaker has said he would pursue it to make the agency “more professional, more accountable, and more transparent,” and Brian Wade’s campaign materials call for accreditation’s “standards, policies, and structure.”
If all three of these experienced law enforcement professionals are believers in accreditation, it’s a good indication Pulaski County should make it a priority.
There are many other law enforcement professionals in Virginia working for accredited agencies who feel strongly about its benefits, such as Tazewell County Sheriff Brian Hieatt.
“I believe that being an accredited agency is important because it tasks you and your department to uphold a higher standard when it comes to policies, training, and working with the public,” Hieatt said in a statement to The Star.
Salem City Sheriff Eric Atkins says accreditation is for the community. “…We’re not engaged in the accreditation effort for ourselves. We do it for our citizens,” Atkins said in an email to The Star.
Worrell suggests in the video release that budget concerns could be an obstacle to accreditation. If that’s the case, Pulaski County leadership needs to help the Sheriff’s Office find the funds needed.
The citizens of Pulaski County are about to vote on the largest one-time tax increase in the history of the county to build a new $40 million middle school. Even if it doesn’t pass, the Board of Supervisors may agree to spend half of that on renovating the old schools.
In comparison to many millions for the schools, the thousands of dollars needed for accreditation of the Sheriff’s Office are a drop in the relative bucket. And yet, it would allow the county’s primary law enforcement agency to upgrade to a seriously higher level of standards.
The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office needs every advantage the county can give it in performing its functions at the highest level, and to be able to properly combat crime. Especially drug-related issues, which Worrell admitted is a serious issue for the area.
“We’re all aware of the drug issues that plague not only Pulaski County but everywhere in southwest Virginia and beyond,” Worrell says in his video.
No matter who gets elected in November, Pulaski County deserves and needs an accredited Sheriff’s Office. By bringing the agency into a higher standard of excellence, accreditation could have a tremendous payoff in terms of lower crime rates.