August 18, 2022
Contact: Tracy LaPointe
(803) 898-8582

SC Department of Mental Health’s Division of Public Safety Reaccredited by CALEA

Columbia, SC – The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) announced on July 28, 2022, that the South Carolina Department of Mental Health’s (SCDMH) Division of Public Safety has received reaccreditation for four years. The organization first received this prestigious accreditation in 2018 and was the only mental health law enforcement agency in the United States to hold this distinction.

The reaccreditation assessment, which began in February of this year, requires a rigorous review of law enforcement agencies’ compliance with professional standards in the following areas: policy and procedures, administration, operations, and support services. In addition, as part of the assessment, agency employees and the public were invited to offer comments at a public information session and directly to the CALEA Assessment Team.

Verification that SCDMH Public Safety meets CALEA standards is part of a voluntary process to gain accreditation – a highly prized recognition of law enforcement excellence. In order to maintain accredited status, law enforcement agencies must undergo reaccreditation every four years to ensure continued compliance with CALEA standards.

Law enforcement practitioners from similar agencies in other states reviewed written materials, interviewed individuals, and observed SCDMH facilities to rate compliance. The assessors’ review of the Agency was sent to the full Commission, which granted re-certification.

“To the men and women of the SCDMH Division of Public Safety, I say ‘Well done,’ said Chief Joseph Nelson. “I commend the hard work and dedication each of you puts forth to make this process a success. Your dedication has made us the gold standard of law enforcement services, setting us apart from other law enforcement agencies in the United States.

“Public Safety’s staff are entirely deserving of this accreditation,” said SCDMH General Counsel Elizabeth Hutto. “Not only does Public Safety provide day-to-day law enforcement and security for SCDMH it is also a fully operational police department. Officers, all of whom are trained at the SC Criminal Justice Academy, perform a wide range of additional services, including conducting investigations, assisting with disaster response, and transporting SCDMH patients and residents. Its Security Officers keep patients, residents, and SCDMH facilities safe. The array of duties this Division undertakes is truly impressive.”

In a letter confirming the reaccreditation, CALEA Executive Director W. Craig Hartley, Jr. noted, “…accreditation is a continuous process and serves as the foundation for a successful, well managed, transparent, community-focused public safety agency.”

The SCDMH Division of Public Safety is the law enforcement entity for the Agency and has statewide jurisdiction. The Division employs sworn officers and has specific responsibilities for coordinating all law enforcement, fire and life safety, and security programs within the Department, and also performs as the Agency’s first responders, as necessary. The Division enforces state laws and protects SCDMH property, patients, employees, and visitors.