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North Augusta Department of Public Safety withdraws from accreditation process, public information officer retires

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(Alexandra Koch/File)

The North Augusta Department of Public Safety has officially withdrawn from the CALEA accreditation process, per recommendations from the credentialing authority.

The national accreditation process, through the Commission of Accredited Law Enforcement Agencies, "provides public safety agencies with an opportunity to voluntarily meet an established set of professional standards," according to the CALEA website.

In October, public safety hosted a community forum as one of the final stages in the reaccreditation process. Former mayoral candidate Richard Adams spoke about his experience with racial profiling and questioned the department about unsolved murders at the event.

The department has officially withdrawn from the accreditation process and has signed up for self assessment.

The self assessment process, which can take one to three years, allows the department to go through each of its standards and make sure it has proof to show it is in compliance with CALEA standards.

"After speaking with CALEA, that was the best path going forward for us to continue for accreditation," said Lt. Junior Johnson with North Augusta public safety.

The self assessment process has already begun, according to Johnson.

"We're going through and making sure all of our policies are in line with what CALEA says best practices are across the nation," he said.

Last Tuesday, Johnson was installed as the department's new public information officer. Public information officers are responsible for communicating with the public and media – sharing official information from the department.

The previous public information officer, Lt. Tim Thornton, retired on April 12 after serving a decade in the position. It is unclear if the departure was related to the accreditation process. 

"Lt. Thornton has decided to step down to retire," Johnson said. "The reasons that people retire or leave are personnel reasons – I'm not privy to all of those to even give them out."

The Aiken Department of Public Safety was reaccredited by CALEA this year, according to the CALEA website. The department has been an accredited agency since 1998.