Magazine article Corrections Today

Roanoke County Sheriff's Office Is on the Cutting Edge of Accreditation

Magazine article Corrections Today

Roanoke County Sheriff's Office Is on the Cutting Edge of Accreditation

Article excerpt

For several years, Sheriff Mike Winston wanted to automate American Correctional Association files. With 383 standards, the files require several thousand proofs of compliance during a three-year audit period. Winston was well aware that this change would save money, space and allow the Roanoke County Sheriff's Office in Virginia to be better stewards of the environment. An automated system seemed to be the right solution for the department, so Sgt. Denise Ory approached ACA about the possibility of presenting its accreditation audit online.

In January 2011, ACA granted the Roanoke County Sheriff's Office permission to try a paperless system. If deemed a success, the system would be a great achievement for ACA and Roanoke County. On the other hand, if the new process did not go well, the staff knew it may be a more arduous audit. Still, the staff were willing to take a chance on what they felt could be a winning solution for everyone.

The Roanoke County Sheriff's Office was already somewhat familiar with scanning documents electronically. In 2008, staff began submitting proofs of compliance to the accreditation team for review through electronic means, using Laserfiche scanning software. Laserfiche has the ability to create files and documents to suit particular needs. At first, submitting documentation electronically was a challenge for the staff, but with time and training, it soon became second nature.

This prior experience came in very handy when the sheriff's office began implementing the paperless system in January 2011. The staff's first step was to begin creating files for all 383 standards. The creation of the files consisted of implementing a flow of material that mirrored a paper file. The purpose was to create an electronic file that was easy to navigate. The folder consisted of a coversheet; primary documentation such as directives (policies, current law, etc.); and secondary documentation (i.e., reports, inspections, photographs, etc.). Laserfiche has the capability of allowing the user to highlight any part of document. There is also a feature for attaching electronic post-it notes. The post-it note function was used to label documentation in a file that had several bullets incorporated. For example, if the post-it note said "A," it was showing compliance with bullet A.

The accreditation team also found it useful to number elements in a standard that requires more than one item to show compliance. For example, "... the plan includes procedures for identification: surveillance; immunization ..., treatment; follow-up. ..." While these elements are not labeled as bullets in the manual, they are treated as the same. Each element has to be met. Therefore, the audit team labeled them as 1-identification, 2-surveillance, 3-immunization, etc. …

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