Posted by William Nunnelley on 2006-08-23

The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA) at Samford University received a certificate of merit from the Governmental Research Association (GRA) for its report, "Staffing the Shelby County Sheriff's Office." The award came at the GRA annual conference in Austin, Texas, in early August.

PARCA was recognized in the Outstanding Policy Achievement category of the GRA annual program competition. The category recognizes tangible improvements in public policy, management, service delivery and/or cost savings resulting from the research and recommendations of a governmental research agency.

PARCA compiled objective comparative data on staffing levels in sheriff's departments in counties similar to Shelby County, Ala. Comparable counties from Alabama and the southeastern U.S. were selected based on land area, demographics and other distinguishing factors. The comparisons included sworn, non-sworn and administrative staffing levels in the chosen sheriffs' departments.

PARCA also reviewed models developed by national law enforcement associations and other entities for estimating staffing needs for a county sheriff's office. It conducted meetings with personnel from Shelby County to tailor a model specific to the county and to develop a model expected to be compatible with a three-year budgeting cycle.

PARCA's report also included research on the use of non-commissioned or non-sworn safety officers in the sheriff's department. Examples of using safety officers were collected from similar law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S.

The GRA, established in 1914, is the national organization of individuals professionally engaged in governmental research. PARCA was established in 1988 to fill Alabama's need for an independent, nonpartisan fact-finding body for public policy. It moved recently to new quarters in 219 Brooks Hall after being located in Samford Hall since its inception. Jim Williams is executive director of PARCA.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.