DESOTO COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - The DeSoto Sheriff's Department is making history, receiving state certification for the first time ever. It's something only a handful of law enforcement agencies in the country can brag about.
"One of the things we feel like we have to do to protect and serve the citizens of DeSoto County is to bring this department to the standards it should be," says Sheriff Bill Rasco.
To Rasco, that meant being accredited by the state. Only a handful of Mississippi police departments have achieved it, and only one other sheriff's department.
The sheriff's spent the last three years working on the certification. The department formally received the award in the middle of November.
Rasco says all of the departments 247 employees were scrutinized.
"They're looking at how we perform our job," he tells abc24.com.
The agency must pass to a long checklist of 126 standards, everything from how they fill out paperwork to how deputies perform arrests and who the department is hiring. It isn't easy and it isn't cheap, costing about $10,000.
"Anytime you're doing something worthwhile it's going to be expensive to do," says Rasco.
"It does makes me feel really good," says Ashley White. "Considering I live in the county so that's who I'd have to call if something happened. It makes you feel a lot safer."
"They need to be checked up on make sure everyone is staying in line," says Velvet Royal. "Good to know they got the accreditations."
Rasco thinks it will help with recruitment, and says the standards are designed to cut down on lawsuits. He adds there are a few improvements the department can make.
"We have a problem with hiring qualified female employees," he says. "African-American employees also same thing. Those are two of the qualifications we are a little bit low on. We'll get those changed in next three years."
That's when this accreditation expires. To be re-certified, the department will have to meet even more standards.