Lehigh County Sheriff’s Office receives state accreditation
The Lehigh County Sheriff’s Office received a certificate of accreditation from the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission at a ceremony Sept. 17 at the Lehigh County Government Center.
The accreditation comes after a yearslong process initiated by Lehigh County Sheriff Joseph Hanna after he took office in 2016. The sheriff’s office completed the process in April, 2021, following a top-to-bottom review of the department’s policies and practices, which included preparatory efforts and official on-site assessments by the Pennsylvania Police Chief’s Association.
Hanna credited two members of the team for shepherding the process through the detailed program. David Faust, retired Emmaus Police Department chief, championed the process for the sheriff’s office in his capacity as chief deputy for administration. Faust joined the Lehigh County Sheriff’s Office after he retired as Emmaus chief in 2016. Faust said he saw the value of the accreditation as he oversaw the process as Emmaus police chief as the Emmaus Police Department went through the long process before receiving accreditation in 2006 as only the 37th police department in Pennsylvania to do so.
Karl Geschwindt, who also retired from the Emmaus Police Department in 2016, was the accreditation manager for the Lehigh County Sheriff’s Office’s accreditation effort. Geschwindt was the principal officer to guide the Emmaus Police Department to its accreditation.
Also serving in the Lehigh County effort was Lt. Lita Bechtold who becomes accreditation manager for the sheriff’s office, while Geschwindt begins the efforts to prepare for the required reaccreditation in three years.
Hanna said to comply with all the necessary requirements of accreditation, his office had to develop policies and procedures and demonstrate compliance with the hundreds of professional enforcement standards and substandards. Those standards were developed by the state accreditation commission under the umbrella of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police.
Hanna said he was grateful officers in his office not only embraced the concept of accreditation, but practiced it daily during their operations and services to the public. Hanna said he was humbled to now be part of an exclusive group of 134 accredited law enforcement agencies in the Commonwealth.
Hanna noted his office is only the sixth sheriff’s office to receive accreditation out of 67 sheriff’s offices and departments in Pennsylvania. This places the Lehigh County office in the top nine percent of similar law enforcement entities in Pennsylvania.