Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies
In 2003, newly appointed Chief of Police Dwight Baird introduced the concept of accreditation for law enforcement to the members of the Village Board and to the members of the Oswego Police Department. The concept of accreditation was explained and with overwhelming support a contract was signed in July of 2003 with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement.
National Accreditation is not a new concept. Many professional organizations have taken on this task in order to prove that they are in compliance with standards set by the accrediting agency. The accreditation process for law enforcement agencies is no different. Successful accreditation makes a statement to the law enforcement employees, Village Board and to the Village residents that the Oswego Police Department meets the highest of standards and professionalism. The Oswego Police Department is able to document that it stands as one of the finest police agencies in the nation.
The Oswego Police Department is committed to providing the highest quality of service. We are dedicated in our efforts of crime prevention and deterrence and to building quality relationships with those we serve.
In 1979 the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) was formed by several Law Enforcement Associations including: The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executive (NOBLE), the National Sheriffs Association (NSA) and the Police Executive Research Forum ( PERF ). Working together, a comprehensive set of written standards were developed which covers every aspect of law enforcement from policies and procedures, rules and regulations, & practices and operations. The CALEA Standards are designed to:
- Assist law enforcement agencies in the prevention and deterrence of crime.
- Increase the effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement services.
- Increase the cooperation and ability to work with other law enforcement agencies.
- Increase employee confidence in the rules and regulations, policies and procedures of the department.
- To better the relationship between the public and the accredited law enforcement agency.
The Accreditation Process
The voluntary accreditation program can generally be divided into two parts; the standards and the process. The standards, discussed in the Standards Manual (Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies), are the building blocks from which everything else evolves. Left to themselves, however, the standards, as with all of the previous law enforcement standard-setting endeavors, would be nothing more than a pile of bricks. The process provides the blueprint and mortar to shape the standards into forms that are sturdy, useful, and lasting for the agency. The process provides order, guidance, and stability to those going through the program and ensures that the Commission can recognize professional achievement in a consistent and uniform manner.
Phase I: Application
Agencies usually begin with a simple request for information. Staff will provide a free information package to the agency. The contents give descriptive information about the standards and program as well as explain how to get involved and order CALEA manuals and products.
Phase II: Self Assessment
The agency reviews the established standards and begins an in-depth and comprehensive analysis of its own policies, procedures and day-to-day operations. The agency must also prove it is compliance with all applicable standards. When the agency is satisfied that it has completed all compliance, preparation, and planning tasks, it notifies the Commission that it is ready to become a candidate for accreditation. The Commission approves the agency's candidate status, requests public information and on-site plans, and invoices the agency for its estimated on-site costs.
Phase III: On-Site Assessment
CALEA selects a team of Assessors who are Law Enforcement professionals from agencies in other states to conduct an extensive review of the department's documented proofs of compliance and ensures the department meets the standards for accreditation. These proofs of compliance may be policies, procedures, files (logs, evaluations, etc.) as well as interviews, observations of the facility and ride-alongs with employees.
Phase IV: Commission Review
The agency makes plans to attend the scheduled hearing. At the hearing, the Commission reviews the final report and receives testimony from agency personnel, assessors, staff, or others. If satisfied that the agency has met all compliance requirements, the Commission awards the agency accredited status. Accreditation is for a period of three years. The agency is given an opportunity to critique the entire process following the award of accredited status.
Benefits of Accreditation
An in-depth review of every aspect of the Oswego Police Department will be conducted. This review benefits the organization as a whole and provides:
Greater Accountability within the Agency
Accreditation standards give the Chief Executive Officer a proven management system of written directives, sound training, clearly defined lines of authority, and routine reports that support decision making and resource allocation.
Controlled Liability Insurance Costs
Accredited status makes it easier for agencies to purchase law enforcement liability insurance; allows agencies to increase the limit of their insurance coverage and in many cases, results in lower premiums or other financial incentives.
Stronger Defense Against Civil Lawsuits
Accredited agencies are better able to defend themselves against civil lawsuits. Also, many agencies report a decline in legal actions against them, once they become accredited.
Staunch Support from Government Officials
Accreditation provides objective evidence of an agency's commitment to excellence in leadership, resource management, and service-delivery. Thus, government officials are more confident in the agency's ability to operate efficiently and meet community needs.
Increased Community Advocacy
Accreditation embodies the philosophy of community oriented policing. It creates a forum in which law enforcement agencies and citizens work together to prevent and control challenges confronting law enforcement and provides clear direction about community expectations.