The APSAC Accreditation process (hereinafter referred to as 'the Program') is divided into two parts: 1) Adoption of the standards and; 2) The assessment. The standards, discussed in the Standards Manual (Standards for Airborne Law Enforcement, Fire, UAS or Search & Rescue), are the foundation from which accreditation can be achieved. However, the standards would have little value if not voluntarily adopted by the agency requesting accreditation. The process of assessment provides the method to ensure compliance with the standards as a foundation that forms a solid base, by providing a vital structure and becomes the measuring device of excellence, safety and quality service. The process provides order, guidance, and stability to those going through the program and ensures that APSAC will recognize professional achievement and compliance with standards in a consistent, uniform manner.
Eligibility for Accreditation
The following units of government, who have been engaged in aviation operations for a minimum of 1-year, are eligible for accreditation:
- A public safety agency as a function of a federal, state, county, parish, provincial or municipal government agency that is operating an aviation unit within the United States, Canada or internationally.
- A governmental entity that owns and operates or leases (for 90-continuous days or longer) aircraft engaged in civil law enforcement, fire or search and rescue activities.
The Process of Accreditation
There are five phases in the accreditation process:
- Unit Assessment
- Commission Review and Appeal Process Procedures
- Maintaining Compliance and Re-Accreditation
Agencies shall begin the process with a request for information. The Commission Lead Assessor will provide a free information package to the agency upon request. The contents include a list of the standards, descriptive information about the accreditation process, a fee schedule and the steps in the process leading to full accreditation.
The first step in the accreditation process is to request an Application Package. This package contains everything necessary to study and enroll in the Program, including the Accreditation Application, the Accreditation Standards and Application Instructions, which contains a step-by-step accreditation process, a sample Accreditation Contractual Services Agreement and all other forms necessary to apply for accreditation. The accreditation process formally begins when an agency submits the completed Accreditation Application, and the Accreditation Contractual Services Agreement and the required non-refundable deposit, equal to 10% of the total accreditation fee. The Commission Lead Assessor is available to answer questions or provide general assistance during this time.
After reviewing the agency’s application materials, the Lead Assessor verifies the unit’s eligibility to participate in the accreditation program. Once verified, the APSA Executive Director/CEO signs the Accreditation Contractual Agreement and the Lead Assessor returns it to the agency along with the Self-Assessment Standard Status Report (SASSR) forms contained on a DVD via US Mail or electronically.
The unit begins the self-assessment process upon receipt of the executed Accreditation Contractual Agreement and the SASSR forms. The unit OIC initiates the unit self-assessment, which involves a thorough examination by the unit to determine whether it complies with ALL applicable mandatory standards. The unit has 6-months from the acknowledgement of receipt of the SASSR forms to complete the self-assessment process. At any time during the self-assessment process, the unit may submit a brief explanation of potential non-compliance with any of the mandatory standards and request a waiver.
If a waiver is requested, the following actions shall take place:
- The unit shall submit a thorough justification for the approval of the waiver to the Commission Chairperson.
- The Chairperson shall assign three commissioners to evaluate the request and render a decision within 30-days of receipt of the request.
- If the waiver is approved by the three commissioners, the unit OIC shall be notified of the decision and the accreditation process will proceed.
- If the waiver is denied, the unit may choose to request a hearing with the Commission, attempt to comply with the standard or voluntarily withdraw from the accreditation process.
- If a hearing is requested, it will take place at the next scheduled commission meeting and the decision of the commission is final.
Once the self-assessment is completed, the unit assembles the SASSR forms and proof of compliance in a manner that will facilitate a thorough review by the assessor(s) of ALL applicable mandatory standards and prepares for the Unit Assessment process. Once the SASSR Forms have been completed and assembled, the unit shall submit the forms to the Lead Assessor, along with payment of 40% of the total accreditation fee. When the unit has completed the self-assessment phase, it notifies the Lead Assessor that it is ready to begin the on-site Unit Assessment process.
3. Unit Assessment
The Unit Assessment begins when the SASSR forms and payment are submitted to the Lead Assessor. The Lead Assessor selects an assessor(s), and assigns an assessor team coordinator, if needed. Following a review of the SASSR forms, a sampling of proof of compliance with at least 5 mandatory standards, will be selected by the Lead Assessor and forwarded to the assigned assessor, who will determine compliance. If discrepancies are found by the assigned assessor in any of this documentation, the affected document shall be returned to the unit for corrective action. The unit shall have 30 days to take corrective action on all documents found with deficiencies and return the corrected document to the Lead Assessor. Once all of the documents have been reviewed and determined to be in compliance with the self-assessment process, the Assessors Workbook is then forwarded to the assigned assessor(s) for review prior to scheduling the on-site visit.
The Lead Assessor advises the assessors to make the necessary travel arrangements and the Lead Assessor shall coordinate the on-site assessment of the agency during a period mutually agreeable to all parties. The assessor will coordinate further contact with the unit concerning the on-site assessment. Accreditation fees related to the unit assessment vary depending on the size of the unit, number of aircraft and number of assessors required to perform the assessment. The balance of the accreditation fee (remaining 50%), is due at the conclusion of the on-site visit. (See the fee schedule in Section 5).
During the on-site visit, the assessor(s), acting as representatives of the Commission, reviews all standards and must verify the agency’s compliance with all applicable mandatory standards. The assessor’s relationship with the unit is non-adversarial. Assessors may provide the agency with verbal feedback on their progress during and at the conclusion of the assessment as well as allowing the agency to make on-the-spot corrections to minor deficiencies.
At the conclusion of the on-site review, the assessor shall provide the OIC with a copy of the standards compliance checklist. Within 30 days, the assessor(s) shall submit a formal written report of the on-site assessment and findings to the Lead Assessor. The Lead Assessor shall forward a copy of the assessor(s) report to the agency’s Chief Executive Officer, and unit OIC. The completed final report shall be submitted to the Commission for review and final accreditation action.
4. Commission Review
At the Commission Review, the Lead Assessor shall prepare an executive summary and make a presentation to the Commission recommending the appropriate accreditation action, based upon the findings of the report. The Commission may accept the Lead Assessor’s recommendation or request additional information prior to rendering accreditation decisions.
Accreditation is for a period of three years.
The unit is given an opportunity to critique the entire process once a final decision has been rendered. The Commission awards the agency with a certificate of accreditation once compliance has been validated and all applicable fees have been paid.
5. Maintaining Compliance
Accreditation is awarded based upon the status of the unit as determined at the time of the on-site assessment. In order to maintain accreditation status, units shall continue to comply with all mandatory standards throughout their accreditation period. Significant changes that affect the unit’s accreditation status shall be reported to the Commission within 30-days. The Commission reserves the right to review the status of a unit’s accreditation at any time.
The Lead Assessor shall notify a unit of the need to file for re-accreditation approximately 6-months prior to the current accreditation expiration date. The re-accreditation process is the same process as the initial assessment process. Units are responsible to prove continued compliance with mandatory standards throughout the accreditation period. Units applying for re-accreditation must be in compliance with the current standards at the time of their application.