Simpsonville’s City Council voted Tuesday night to not pay for the police department to be nationally accredited before the March 15 deadline.
Last year, council members approved the $11,000 initial accreditation fee in the city’s budget for the year.
However, for months now, council members never signed the check to pay for the process.
“I think that that big of a commitment from the city because we’re committing the city for years to come down the road, we need to take a look at that because there were no concrete answers,” said Simpsonville Mayor Janice Curtis.
The Simpsonville Police Department lost all of their documents, including e-mails, when a Greenville County server failed last year.
The department is essentially starting over now and wanted to be held to the highest accountability level which they said is the national standard. National Accreditation also comes with its own database system, so the mishap the department suffered last year wouldn’t happen again.
The department said national accreditation provides checks and balances and transparency. It also reduces department lawsuits.
Council members who voted against funding the accreditation were concerned about the long term financial costs to sustain it.
“We need to decide as stewards of the taxpayer where we’re going to get the biggest bang for our dollar,” Mayor Curtis said.
The mayor also said she believed the state accreditation standards were just fine, and it didn’t make sense to her to pay for the national.
The police department will only have state accreditation until May when it expires. In order for them to get state accreditation, officers said it might take the department a couple years because of all the documents they lost.
With no accreditation after May, it means if something happens it will only be internally investigated with no outside organization oversight.
“The accreditation is proof that the police officers have had the proper training, so if there’s any issue like a Ferguson or other places around the country, the Feds come in, and they know that our police department has had the training they need,” said Councilmember Sylvia Lockaby.
People living in Simpsonville said not having the accreditation makes them worry about their safety.
“Especially with everything that’s going on nationally, you want to make sure you’re accredited and that somebody can come in from the outside and take a look at it and make sure people are being taken care of,” Simpsonville resident, Kevin Shockley said.
Currently, Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, Greenville City Police Department, and the Mauldin Police Department are all nationally accredited.
Simpsonville City Council will be meeting in two weeks to talk about amending last year’s budget to remove the allocated money for the accreditation.