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The Volusia Sheriff’s Office Communications Center has successfully earned national accreditation — for the first time ever.

This award, secured after months of review and site assessment by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), means the Communications Center is on the path to become one of the best in the country.

The communications center has 170 employees.

The accreditation was officially granted virtually on July 31 to the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office overall has CALEA national accreditation.

“We now join a very small, select group of communication centers across the country that have demonstrated excellence in several categories,” said Jim Soukup, director of VSO Communications.

Though thousands of emergency communications centers exist nationwide, the VSO’s center joins fewer than 200 nationally accredited centers.

“I’m incredibly proud of the work done by our Communications Center, day in and day out,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. “This recognition shows we are committed to best practices and serving our community, especially through the toughest emergency situations.”

The state-of-the-art Communications Center, a $21 million facility that became fully operational in 2013, provides a unified communications service to all public-safety agencies in Volusia County. Every 9-1-1 and nonemergency call for law enforcement, fire or medical service is handled by the telecommunicators and call-takers at the Sheriff’s Office Communications Center, located on Tiger Bay Road, Daytona Beach.

The VSO’s accreditation team worked for several months, even before Director Soukup joined the Sheriff’s Office in December 2019, to prepare for the assessment. A team from CALEA conducted a virtual examination of the agency’s policies and procedures, management, operations and support services.

Each agency being reviewed goes before CALEA’s 21-member Board of Commissioners, which reviews all findings and decides the agency’s accreditation status. Accreditation is reviewed every four years. In between, the agency must show continued compliance by submitting annual reports and participating in annual remote web-based assessments.

Accreditation benefits many: Residents see the recognition and appreciate the center’s efforts to get accredited. Employees gain a sense of pride, knowing they belong to an elite group across the country. And local government officials’ confidence rises in the center’s ability to meet public-safety needs, Soukup said.

“This represents the great work everyone does every day,” he added. “And it will provide a road map to achieve other recognitions and become one of the best in the nation.”

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