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OPD finishes state accreditation process

After two days of scrutiny, the Oxford Police Department is breathing a little easier and a couple people might just be smiling.

A team from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety’s office of law enforcement standards and training on Thursday wrapped up a two-day review of OPD’s policies and procedures, which included opening up phone lines for residents to voice comments.

“It takes us two days to do an on-site inspection, and what we do is we review their 140 best-practice law enforcement standards to see if they are in compliance with policy, training and documentation of those processes, and they are now and will be reaccredited as one of 27 agencies in the state,” said Bob Morgan, alliance manager with the law enforcement accreditation division of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

OPD has shown it is among the elite units in the state, being one of 27 accredited out of a total of 250 police forces and 82 sheriff’s departments.

Morgan’s recommendation for reaccreditation for another three years means OPD will head into its fourth year of being accredited from the state and continue work on being reaccredited from another higher agency, CALEA.

Morgan finished his report Thursday and it will be submitted at the next meeting of his agency’s commissioners July 21 where he said OPD’s accreditation will be officially approved. He will also pursue a verbal vote prior to that meeting so OPD can proudly wave its certificate at the state’s chiefs conference later this month.

“Pretty much everything that Oxford has been doing is falling directly in line with what agencies should be doing. We have not found anything detrimental or anything that would hinder their reaccreditation in any way,” Morgan said.

Even though Morgan gave the verbal green light that OPD is reaccredited, Maj. Sheridan Maiden will wait for the letter to be in his hand to celebrate, but he’s happy with the work OPD’s Libby Lytle and Joe Bishop put into the process.

“We will be reserved until after the final report is done,” he said. “I appreciate the work my team of two accreditation officers put in. They put in a number of tireless hours to ensure the department meets these standards.”

Community building

Morgan said OPD has a positive relationship with the community, and that was clear during his assessment.

“I only received three calls yesterday from residents and every one of them was very positive toward the professionalism and operation and response of the police officers in Oxford,” Morgan said. “I had no negative comments.”

Lt. LeAnn Farr of the Olive Branch Police Department was also part of the reaccreditation review by the state agency, and said part of the success of OPD is a positive outreach with residents, students and anyone watching social media efforts.

“Since Chief (Joey) East has taken over, his community relations efforts have improved in the community and the police department with their Facebook page and promoting the police department, that I think that plays into us not getting many calls from the public,” Farr said. “He’s done such a great job with the outreach that he’s doing right now. It’s amazing if people go to their Facebook page they can see what they’re doing in the community.”