FAQ

  • General

    Question: Why should I get VSI Certified? What are the benefits?

    Answer: The VSI Certification program was created to recognize the continued individual professional development that Virginia’s sheriffs and deputies undertake each day to make their communities safer. VSI certification demonstrates to fellow law enforcement personnel and the community that a sheriff or deputy has continued to work on learning new skills, attending additional training, or furthering their education above and beyond the core requirements of their position.

    Sheriffs and deputies who achieve certification will be awarded a certificate by the Performance Management Group at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. They will also be recognized at the annual VSI conference, and may use the designation “VSIC” professionally.


    Question: How does the program work?

    Answer: Applicants must have a designated minimum total of points in four categories for initial certification: Public Safety Experience, Education, Training and Professional Development. For recertification, applicants must have a designated minimum total of points in Public Safety Experience, Training and Professional Development. Specific information about how points are tallied is available in the program guidebook.


    Question: What happens to the documents I submit with my application?

    Answer: Applicants should submit copies of all records as paper versions will be digitized for review and then destroyed. If you are submitting your application electronically, all documents must be scanned and attached as a PDF with the application. Paper documents will not be returned.


    Question: How will I be notified of the committee’s decision?

    Answer: The Certification Committee is comprised of a diverse group of Virginia sheriffs appointed by the VSI Board of Directors. The committee reviews all applications with the assistance of VCPI, to ensure applicants to the certification program represent the best public safety practices as outlined in the program guidebook.

    The committee will make its final decision on all candidates by March 15, and will notify applicants subsequently. Applicants who have had their applications rejected or held for additional documentation will be notified and given a deadline date to respond to the committee.


    Question: I want to appeal the committee’s decision. How do I do that?

    Answer: Applicants who have had their applications rejected or held for additional documentation may submit a written appeal via mail or email to the VSI Certification Committee.

    Virginia Sheriffs’ Association
    901 East Byrd Street, Suite 1301
    Richmond, VA 23219

    [email protected]

  • Public Safety Experience (Section 2.A)

    Question: I just completed my second year as a deputy in Virginia, but I was a deputy in another state for four years. Does that time count towards certification?

    Answer: No, only time spent as a Virginia sheriff or deputy counts towards certification. Duly elected or sworn sheriffs, or full-time deputies with at least three (3) years of public safety experience with any sheriff’s office in Virginia may apply for certification.

  • Education (Section 2.B)

    Question: I have taken college courses, but I do not have a college degree. Does my course work count?

    Answer: No, not in Section B: Education. Only completed college degrees (or a H.S./GED) may be counted in Section B: Education.

  • Training (Section 3.C)

    Question: I attended a VSI and/or VSA conference in the last 4 years. How many credit hours count toward certification?

    Answer: Applicants who have participated in VSI and/or VSA conferences may claim points towards training requirements, based on the allocations conveyed in the documents listed on the Downloads page, and per the instructions in the VSI Certification Program Guidebook.


    Question: I attended a VSI New Sheriffs’ School in the last 4 years. How many credit hours count toward certification?

    Answer: Applicants who have participated in a VSI New Sheriffs’ School may claim points towards training requirements, based on the allocations conveyed in the documents listed on the Downloads page, and per the instructions in the VSI Certification Program Guidebook.


    Question: Does mandated training count towards certification?

    Answer: Basic skills training or other training conducted to maintain minimum job or skill proficiency cannot be claimed towards certification.


    Question: Does online training count towards certification?

    Answer: Applicants may claim public-safety related training courses that they have completed online by submitting a copy of the training certificate and documentation designating the number of hours needed to complete the course. Applicants may claim 1 point/hour of documented online training.


    Question: I am not sure which required training topic to select for a course I am claiming towards certification. How do I know which topic to assign it to?

    Answer: The primary subject matter or the course title should be the guide to determine in which category (or categories) the training will be claimed. Applicants should use their best judgement in determining which category (or categories) best applies, and provide the appropriate supporting documentation for the training.


    Question: If the training I have completed covers multiple required topics, can I claim the hours/points across multiple categories?

    Answer: Applicants may find that courses they’ve participated in cover subject matter which falls under multiple required training topics. For instance, a “Leadership” course might also address topics related to ethics, community policing, law, and/or diversity. In such cases, applicants may choose to claim those hours/points, in increments of no less than one hour/point, under more than one required topic. Applicants should use their best judgement in determining which topic (or topics) best applies, and provide the appropriate supporting documentation for the training. The exception is training completed at the annual VSA and/or VSI Conferences, the points for which have been pre-designated by VSA and VSI (see the allocations conveyed in the documents listed on the Downloads page).


    Question: If the training I have completed covers multiple required topics, how do I document the hours/points across multiple categories?

    Answer: Applicants completing multi-hour or multi-day training programs may choose to claim hours/points, in increments of no less than one hour/point, across multiple required training topics. Applicants should use their best judgement in determining which topics best apply. To document a single training program across more than one topic, applicants should:

    • Record the Course/Program Title and Date(s) on multiple lines of Section 3 of the application (the number of times the Course/Program Title is recorded should equal the number of topics under which points are being claimed);
    • Record, for each instance of the Course/Program, the number of hours and points being claimed, and select the Course Topic which applies; and
    • Provide supporting documentation for the breakdown of hours/points being claimed.

    • Question: Can I claim points for Category C. Training and Category D. Professional Development for the multi-month or multi-week courses or non-VSA/VSI public safety conferences I attend?

      Answer: Applicants claiming Professional Development (Category D) points for any multi-month courses, multi-week courses, or non-VSA/VSI public safety conferences may only claim points for the actual course or conference, not individual Training topics (Category C) or sessions attended while at the course or conference.

      For example, if an applicant attends the FBI National Academy (a multi-month course), she or he may only claim 30 Professional Development points (Category D) for completing the overall program, and must submit a copy of her or his certificate to document it. This individual may not claim additional points under Training (Category C) for the individual classes, such as leadership, ethics, etc., he or she attended while at the FBI National Academy.


      Question: What counts as Leadership Training?

      Answer: For the purposes of certification/recertification, Leadership training is defined as any training program that enhances the participant’s knowledge, skills and abilities to perform in formal or informal leadership roles within an organization. Leadership courses being claimed towards the eight (8) hour certification/recertification minimum requirement may include a wide range of philosophical and/or practical topics, including but not limited to: supervision/management, organizational change, leadership styles, motivation, mentoring, goal-setting, decision making, conflict resolution, communication skills, disciplinary processes, risk management, media relations, workforce allocation, procedural justice, civil liability, crisis management, stress management/wellness, community engagement, and diversity. Additionally, Leadership topics are often components found within a wide range of training programs, such as homeland security, corrections, crime analysis, problem solving, court security, or others. Applicants should use their best judgement in determining if a course is applicable to the topic of Leadership.


      Question: What counts as Ethics Training?

      Answer: For the purposes of certification/recertification, Ethics training is defined as any training program that enhances the participant’s knowledge, skills and abilities to perform in an ethical manner. Ethics courses being claimed towards the eight (8) hour certification/recertification requirement may include a wide range of philosophical and/or practical topics, including but not limited to: history/theories of ethics, decision making, professional standards, public trust, and diversity. Applicants should use their best judgement in determining if a course is applicable to the topic of Ethics.


      Question: What counts as Cultural Diversity Training?

      Answer: For the purposes of certification/recertification, Cultural Diversity training is defined as any program that enhances the participant’s knowledge, skills and abilities to work in a diverse environment and serve a diverse community. Cultural Diversity courses being claimed towards the eight (8) hour certification/recertification requirement may include a wide range of topics that ensure sensitivity to and awareness of diversity. Applicants should use their best judgement in determining if a course is applicable to the topic of Cultural Diversity.


      Question: What counts as Community Policing Training?

      Answer: For the purposes of certification/recertification, “Community Policing” training is defined as any program that enhances the participant’s knowledge, skills and abilities to build partnerships, solve problems, and implement organizational change necessary to support efforts to build trust and legitimacy with the community. “Community Policing” courses being claimed towards the eight (8) hour certification/recertification requirement may include a wide range of philosophical and/or practical topics, including but not limited to: history/theory of community policing, crime prevention, organizational change, use of force, decision making, conflict resolution, communication skills, de-escalation, risk management, media relations, workforce allocation, procedural justice, crisis intervention, critical incident management, stress management/wellness, crime analysis and evidence-based policing strategies, enforcement strategies, problem solving, community engagement and outreach, language acquisition, diversity, and policy development. Additionally, Community Policing topics are often components found within a wide range of training programs, such as homeland security, corrections, court security, or others. Applicants should use their best judgement in determining if a course is applicable to the topic of Community Policing.


      Question: What counts as Legal/Employment Law Training?

      Answer: For the purposes of certification/recertification, Legal/Employment Law training is defined as any program that enhances the participant’s knowledge, skills and abilities to perform his or her role as a sworn law enforcement professional within the confines of applicable federal, state and local laws. Legal/Employment Law courses being claimed towards the eight (8) hour certification/recertification requirement may include a wide range of topics, such as: constitutional law, corrections law, human resource management and law, use of force, critical incident management, civil process, and civil liability. Applicants should use their best judgement in determining if a course is applicable to the topic of Legal/Employment Law.

  • Professional Development (Section 3.D)

    Question: Can I claim points for Category C. Training and Category D. Professional Development for the multi-month or multi-week courses or non-VSA/VSI public safety conferences I attend?

    Answer: Applicants claiming Professional Development (Category D) points for any multi-month courses, multi-week courses, or non-VSA/VSI public safety conferences may only claim points for the actual course or conference, not individual Training topics (Category C) or sessions attended while at the course or conference.

    For example, if an applicant attends the FBI National Academy (a multi-month course), she or he may only claim 30 Professional Development points (Category D) for completing the overall program, and must submit a copy of her or his certificate to document it. This individual may not claim additional points under Training (Category C) for the individual classes, such as leadership, ethics, etc., he or she attended while at the FBI National Academy.