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Sandy Twp. police among the finest
Tuesday, April 16, 2013

DuBOIS - The Sandy Township Police Department can now say it's one of the finest in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association unanimously approved full accreditation to the police department April 3. The award was presented to the department by Randy Cox, a PCPA representative, at Monday's supervisors meeting.

"They (police department) have achieved a very momentous step, not only in their history but also, I would say, the history of the township," Cox said.

"In the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, there (are) about 1,200 municipal police departments. Less than 80 of those have achieved accreditation. So your department is a part of the 6 percent of the finest police departments in the commonwealth." The department also has the distinction of being the first in the Tri-County Region to be accredited.

It was required to meet 116 Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation standards that cover numerous facets of the department's operation, including wording the officers oath, procedures relating to patrol operations, vehicle pursuits, use of force, detention of prisoners, property/evidence control, training/career development and Pennsylvania Legal Mandates. Every aspect of the police department and the actions of the officers are addressed.

In addition, Cox said, many of the standards have additional subsections contained within them so that in order to attain accredited status, the department had to document compliance in 318 different areas.

Officers will now wear a pin above their name tags showing that they are part of an accredited department. Not counting the state police, also an accredited agency, there are only about 1,000 officers across the state out of 12,000 total municipal offices whose departments have earned them the privilege to wear those pins on their uniforms, Cox said. "Accreditation probably means a lot of things to a lot of people," Cox said.

"For the supervisors, you'll be happy that you are probably going to see an insurance break coming up pretty soon, but it's more than that. Your police department has dedicated themselves to subscribing to a standard of excellence." Special guests Monday included Clearfield County Judge Paul Cherry, District Judge Jerome Nevling, Clearfield County District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr., Sgt. Wayne Kline of the DuBois-based state police and Del Spafford, former longtime township supervisor.

Police Chief Don Routch and Accreditation Manager/Sgt. Kristopher Kruzelak expressed appreciation to the supervisors for giving the department the opportunity to go through the accreditation process. "I feel real proud of the guys. It was a group effort. It wasn't one or two people. It was the whole department who came on board," Routch said. He also thanked Administrative Assistant Sharon Jerashen and township Manager Dick Castonguay for all of their help and support.

Kruzelak said, "I feel honored to have the distinguished award, but it's been an honor, a lot of hard work, but it has made our department so much better in every aspect."

Cherry said, "It took a lot of time and effort. You do make Sandy Township proud." Nevling, a former member of the police department, said, "I know we as judges, we always strive for excellence in the judicial branch of government. Sandy Township can be proud that they have an executive branch of government that they've excelled to this high level and the community can be proud of that." Shaw called the police department "top notch" and said, "I'm proud of them, happy to work with them. I think the dividends are going to be seen in the future. Well done."

Kline said he appreciates all the work the police department put into achieving accreditation. Supervisor Chairman Brady LaBorde said, "I'm very proud of them. I was a member of that department for 27 years and I'm glad to see that our chief has taken the initiative to become an accredited department."

Supervisor Dave Sylvis said, "I just want to thank you for going through all the extra effort. I've made this statement numerous times, you're second to none. You're an excellent group of police officers, you do an excellent job." He also credited Castonguay for instilling in the township employees the ability to be able to do a lot of work themselves. Supervisors Mark Sullivan and Jim Jeffers also expressed appreciation to the police department.

"It's been many years coming," Jeffers said. He also noted that Spafford was very instrumental with the police department while he was a supervisor and pushed for excellence. "So I guess he was at the very groundwork of this."

"They really did work hard," said Castonguay, who watched the police department work on the accreditation process over the past 2 1/2 to three years. "They did all rise to the occasion and I think we have an extremely professional police department that sets the standard for the area and I'm just so proud to be here with them."

The department is accredited for three years and must undergo a reaccreditation assessment every three years. As part of the commitment to improving, the Accreditation Team of Routch, Kruzelak and Jerashen will have the responsibility of ensuring that the department continues to meet the high professional standards established as part of the accreditation process.

Also, the officer assigned to oversee the process will conduct a semiannual audit and compliance checks. The task will be to keep the department as a recognized leader in the region for others to follow.

"Accreditation affirms that the Sandy Township Police Department strives to meet its mission in the service and protection of our community," the police department said in a news release. "Accreditation could not have been achieved without the tireless efforts and dedication of the men and women of the department. Input from our officers, governmental officials and members of our community is valued. The department is very proud of this award and shares this monumental achievement with our citizens."