Americus Police Department on way toward National Accreditation

Published 1:56 pm Sunday, August 11, 2019

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AMERICUS — Chief Mark Scott of the Americus Police Department (APD) shares that the CALEA accreditation review for this week has ended. Assessors representing the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®) concluded in their Exit Interview that APD has favorably completed the required steps towards being awarded Advanced Accreditation. At this juncture, they have found the department complete in its accreditation review and assessment and in compliance with the reviewed national standards without exception. Following the remote file review(s) and assessments to confirm standards, the assessment team traveled to Americus to conduct a comprehensive site-based assessment. Collectively, this will culminate in a report to be reviewed by the Commission to determine accreditation status. The final credentialing decision is made by the Board of CALEA Commissioners. Each agency being presented for accreditation is assigned to an Agency Review Committee, which consists of CALEA Commissioners. Their decision will be shared at the Northern Kentucky CALEA Conference 2019 on Nov. 16 during the Celebration Awards Banquet.

If awarded, this will be APD’s first national accreditation capping off the voluntary accreditation process the department launched in January 2018, to create a public safety workforce and working environment using best practices and high industry standards. Achieving accreditation means the agency is in compliance with 349 applicable mandatory national standards for how police do their work, which includes everything from how the agency deals with use of force incidents to how evidence is stored, Scott said.

“The biggest part of the accreditation process is the policies and procedures. CALEA is a national agency that basically sends out standards and they adjust them as society changes or requirements change within the police department,” said Scott. “What it really does is give us consistency on how we provide services such as street patrol and administrative tasks. It gives us guidelines so we’re doing things consistently every time.”

The team of assessors arrived on Monday to examine all aspects of the department’s policies and procedures, management, operations and support services. The visit included a public information session in addition to many individual and group interviews with citizens, community leaders, partnering agencies, staff, elected officials, department heads, and officers.

“There’s only about 4 percent of the agencies in the United States that are accredited and so this level of inspection attests to the quality of the Americus Police Department,” said Capt. Perry Twisdale, CALEA assessor.

The police department says they go through this process for the community. “It’s a way for us to build trust with the public and it’s a way for us to show we’re lifting our department up to a national standard and holding ourselves to that standard,” said APD Detective Sgt. Eric English, Accreditation and Certification manager, who led the local effort. “Law enforcement is constantly evolving we’re constantly improving as a profession and this is our way of keeping pace with the changes.”

The CALEA Accreditation program provides public safety agencies with an opportunity to voluntarily meet an established set of professional standards, which require:

  • Comprehensive and uniform written directives that clearly define authority, performance, and responsibilities;
  • Reports and analyses to make fact-based and informed management decisions;
  • Preparedness to address natural or man-made critical incidents;
  • Community relationship-building and maintenance;
  • Independent review by subject matter experts; and
  • Continuous pursuit of excellence through annual reviews and other assessment measures.

“This accreditation is an outstanding accomplishment and a tribute to the hard work that the men and women in uniform and the civilian staff do to make our city a better place to live, work, and play,” Americus City Manager Charles Coney said. “Completing this process and gaining our certification by CALEA underscores the strong foundation of this organization and our ongoing pursuit of excellence in law enforcement.”