VCSO protects a community of 91,300 with more than 230 sworn deputies, county jailers, telecommunication officers and civilian support staff. The agency uses Lexipol’s policy solutions as well as PoliceOne Academy.
Digital technology has transformed our daily lives, from how we pay for merchandise to how we access information. But for law enforcement agencies, funding to keep up with these changes is often lacking, leaving them with operational systems that lag far behind consumer technologies.
This was the situation for the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office’s (VCSO). Like many agencies, its policy management system consisted of a lot of paper. “We provided directives by memo,” says Capt. Ryan Mikulec, who oversees the agency’s policies. “There were lots and lots of memos, and they were all kept in a binder.”
Not only was this unorganized and cumbersome, but it also led to outdated policies. “We had made periodic updates, but they were done individually,” says Sheriff Justin Marr. “The manual had not been given a thorough review in many years.” Lack of accountability was another challenge. “There would be a signoff sheet on a clipboard, but we didn’t have a good way to guarantee that everyone was aware of the policies,” Capt. Mikulec says.
VCSO’s training systems were similarly positioned. The VCSO relied mostly on in-person training, which led to overtime costs. And often deputies had to wait for classes to be offered at local colleges, rather than having them accessible anytime.
Using policy and training management solutions from Lexipol, the VCSO has modernized and streamlined its operations.
Using PoliceOne Academy, the agency has access to 400-plus online courses approved for credit through the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE), including the TCOLE Intermediate Courses and the required state and federal law update. “Those intermediate courses have been key for us because it allows us to get the certifications out of the way,” says Lt. Greg Kouba, the agency’s training manager. “We don’t have to wait for them to be offered at a college or bring in an instructor.”
PoliceOne Academy allows the VCSO to set learning assignments, track course completions and easily report to TCOLE. “The availability of the different training is excellent,” Lt. Kouba says. “We’ve integrated it into the new-hire process, so we can easily provide new employees with courses on sexual harassment, suicide prevention, ethics and mental health in jails. They’re learning how they should be doing things before they even start.”
Lexipol helped VCSO move through a similar transformation with its policies. The online platform provides policies specific to sheriff’s office operations in Texas, a mobile app where deputies can access the policies, and legislative monitoring for updates. The system alerts deputies to new or updated policies and records their policy acknowledgments. “Before it was just, ‘Yeah, I read it’ or someone’s initials on a piece of paper,” Capt. Mikulec says. “Now we have a clear record that they’ve received and understood it.”
Lexipol has helped the VCSO consolidate costs and improve efficiency. The agency previously used several different training providers to fulfill requirements. But with PoliceOne Academy, many of those requirements – such as Spanish for Law Enforcement – are now available in one system.
“We set a lot of training requirements with our tier system. Tenure is one thing, but specific training is required to advance through the program,” Sheriff Marr says. “Being able to do the training online is just a lot easier for the deputies.”
Perhaps equally important, agency leaders are resting a bit easier knowing they have better insight into how their
personnel are trained and prepared for the job. “It’s peace of mind,” Sheriff Marr says. “With Lexipol you know your policy content is updated, you can monitor to ensure your employees have read it, and you can ensure training deadlines have been met. It’s just a good system.”