LARGO — The APSA National Accreditation Commission presented the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Flight Unit with a certificate of accreditation during the Airborne Public Safety Foundation Awards Reception July 19 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Major Paul Halle, Sgt. Bryan Smith and Cpl. Paul Rogers attended the event and received the award.

The Flight Unit was awarded full accreditation with the APSAC Standards for the Operation of Law Enforcement Aircraft.

The APSAC is an entity within The Airborne Public Safety Association that provides, develops, and maintains standards of accreditation for operations performed by public safety aviation units.

The accreditation process is voluntary and promotes safe, efficient and accident-free aviation operations in support of law enforcement missions. The accreditation program is designed to objectively evaluate and certify a unit’s overall compliance with the Standards as developed by APSAC and adopted by APSA as best practice standards. The process involves a written application, self-assessment, on-site assessment, and commission review.

In addition, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is in the 1% of sheriff's offices nationwide to have received the Triple Crown Award for accreditation. This prestigious award recognizes agencies that have achieved accreditation from three separate accreditation agencies: Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc., American Correctional Association and the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare.

The agency is also accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board for the forensic inspection activities performed by the AFIS Division (Latent Unit), Forensic Sciences Division, the Forensic Imaging Unit and now by the Airborne Public Safety Association for activities performed by the Flight Unit.

Currently, only 17 sheriff’s offices in the United States hold the APSA accreditation and only two in Florida.