Nestled between New Orleans and Baton Rouge lies over 500 years of history in Ascension Parish. The 200 sworn officers of the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office provide quality service for the citizens and a safe community for all.
The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office (APSO) was experiencing rapid growth and struggling to keep up with policy updates. Deputy Chief of Administration Lt. Col. Laura Gremillion recalls why APSO started the process of searching for a policy solution. “We were trying to get organized, keep up with the times and use technology to our advantage—and we had a policy manual that was a binder with a bunch of paper in it,” she says.
Another unique policy challenge facing APSO: the need for policies customized to meet the agency’s specific needs. “In Louisiana, sheriff’s offices don’t fall under the county government for anything like human resources, insurance or any of those things. We each have our own, so that has to be developed into our policy manual, which is more challenging and takes more time,” Sheriff Bobby Webre says.
At an IACP conference, Sheriff Webre had the opportunity to attend a session with risk management expert and Lexipol co-founder Gordon Graham. “I’d never seen anybody in my life that could make risk management interesting. I was at his two-hour seminar, and I was blown away by it,” Sheriff Webre says.
At the time, Lexipol was not yet providing services in Louisiana. But Sheriff Webre did not give up hope. “We knew that if we were ever going to be an accredited agency through CALEA, we would probably need to be under the Lexipol model,” he says. “So we started making phone calls and eventually, we became the first sheriff’s office in Louisiana to have a Lexipol policy manual.”
While going live with Lexipol took time, APSO had the help of Lexipol’s Professional Services to walk them through the process. “It wouldn’t have gone as smoothly without the Lexipol Implementation Services representative, because everything was all so new,” Lt. Col. Gremillion says. “We were customizing policies to our specifications, including policies that were best practice and policies that we didn’t even realize we needed. It was absolutely wonderful to have someone help us facilitate that.”
Once the new policies were in place, APSO started using Lexipol’s Daily Training Bulletins to enhance employee policy comprehension. “We’re an agency that was recently accredited and we found the Daily Training Bulletins to be a very good portal for standards and to issue training on those standards, like pursuit training or bias training. It’s a great way to engage officers. We can reach the entire department at once with a Daily Training Bulletin,” Sgt. Cody Dardeau says.
Using an online system for policy management also increases productivity for APSO’s Professional Standards & Accountability Unit. “With the electronic manual, it’s so much easier to find what you’re looking for. On the management side, it’s pretty intuitive,” Lt. Blaine Melancon says.
With Lexipol, APSO has created a foundation based on nationwide standards and best practices. “It’s been a game changer for us as an agency to help us move into the future, to help us progress, to help us communicate better with our employees,” Lt. Col. Gremillion says. Having these comprehensive policies in place also helped the agency gain CALEA accreditation in April 2022.
APSO’s Professional Standards & Accountability Unit is benefiting from the ability to keep policies up-to date and provide consistency across the department. “Lexipol keeps up with changes in the law for us; we no longer have to monitor that ourselves,” says Lt. Melancon. Sgt. Dardeau adds, “Our supervisors like having the uniformity because they can reference a policy now and they know everyone is operating off that same policy. If a best practice is recommended as an update, it sparks conversation. It brings people and departments together to talk about issues we didn’t know could be issues.”
With Lexipol’s policy management system, APSO is leading the way for other departments in Ascension Parish and throughout Louisiana. “We are now getting ready to implement Lexipol at our corrections facility and we’re very excited about it,” Sheriff Webre says. “Everything with Lexipol has worked out really well. And increasingly, we’re seeing other sheriffs and chiefs of police in our area wanting to replicate this approach.”