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On hand for the Somerset Police Department’s accreditation presentation in Lexington, Ky., were (left to right) Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler, City Attorney Carrie Wiese, Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police President Robert Ratliff, SPD Acting Chief Doug Nelson, and SPD Sgt. Michael Grigsby.

Major Doug Nelson is in his fourth year as acting chief of the Somerset Police Department. If the amount of progress made by the SPD in the past four years is any indication of the quality of his leadership, it would seem that Nelson’s “act” as chief has been a first class one.

Last week, the SPD was officially given its fourth reaccreditation from the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police. The department was originally accredited in 1996, and has received reaccreditation in 2001 and 2006.

Somerset’s police department was one of only nine departments in the state to receive a fourth accreditation — and Somerset was the only 3rd class city (a city with a population ranging from 8,000 to 19,999) to receive the honor.

The Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police (KACP) Accreditation Program is a voluntary process intended to provide law enforcement agencies of the Commonwealth with an avenue for demonstrating they meet commonly accepted professional standards for efficient and effective operations.

In order to accomplish these requirements, the SPD made available a number documents, including the newly revised policy manual, to a team of evaluators. These documents were then reviewed by the KACP Accreditation Manager and, finally, an on-site assessment was conducted, explained SPD Det. Lt. Shannon Smith.

“The on-site assessment consisted, in part, of inspections of patrol vehicles, security of the police department, criminal cases, and evidence storage. The evaluators conducted private interviews with officers within the department to test their specific knowledge of policy and procedures.”

A report was prepared and sent to the KACP’s Accreditation Committee, which voted to award accreditation to the SPD for another five-year period.

Nelson said the SPD’s new policy manual was heralded as being a “role model for the state” by evaluators.

“The process of reaccreditation is a demanding, but rewarding task that all police department employees are proud of,” Nelson said. “The citizens of Somerset deserve a professional, progressive police department.”

During a recent Somerset city council meeting, Nelson noted several accomplishments and new developments which have taken place in the last few years in the SPD.

Aside from hiring 20 new employees, the SPD has added fleets of vehicles such as motorcycles, segways, and golf carts to help officers serve the public in broader capacities. The department boasts an interpreter, a narcotics officer, school resource officers, an honor guard, and young people in the Explorer program — and the department’s first female officer is expected to be hired soon, Nelson said. The SPD has a tipline and a website, and has recently added a presence on Facebook.

“I am a lame duck without this council’s support,” Nelson told council members this week. “I think each one of you for what you do. It’s not my police department. It’s your police department, and the people’s.”

Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler said the fact that the department has now attained accreditation four times “says a lot for the department — not just now, but in the past.”

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