The Walker County Sheriff's Office has a policy manual for the first time in the department's history.
The Walker County Sheriff's Office (WCSO) has a policy manual for the first time in the department's history.
The comprehensive manual contains 12 sections of written guidelines covering a range of topics, such as secondary employment, the use of informants, pursuit procedures, dealing with the mentally ill and the use of body cameras.
The manual covers all employees of the Walker County Sheriff's Office.
The bulk of the material came from a nationally-recognized policy that Sheriff Nick Smith adopted while serving as police chief in Cordova.
Adapting the manual for WCSO was a collaborative process.
"Each policy that would affect a department, I had the people who run those departments to provide their input on the policy before it was finalized," Smith said.
The policies both guide employee behavior and protect them from unfair actions of administrators.
"There was no structured discipline policy. This clearly lays out what they can expect. The discipline for sleeping on duty is reprimand to dismissal. Failure to make a report is reprimand to dismissal. Some things are reprimand to five days, so there is some discretion," Smith said.
The manual was issued to all employees on a flash drive. There will be time for them to review it before department heads go over the individual policies in a classroom setting and give tests on the material.
A similar policy manual for the jail is currently being written. Its completion is one of the steps in the long process to get national accreditation for the jail.
Training is another step.
Corrections officers have recently been using WCSO's new education resource center in the jail to complete almost 30 classes for higher education. These classes include concerns with inmate discipline, religion, special needs inmates and prisoner rights.
The National Institute for Jail Operations offers legal-based online jail training.
"We are thankful for the Walker County Commission’s partnership to help make this possible. These classes, in addition to the current 80-hour jail management program will help us achieve the goal of being nationally recognized and accredited," Smith said.