Accreditation is important to police, city

May. 04, 2013 @ 04:43 PM

When I interviewed for the police chief’s position in 2006, then City Manager Craig Meadows gave me a list of things that he wanted the police department to accomplish. At the top of the list was to get the police department nationally accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA. 

In 2003, the department was going through the accreditation process and had paid the required fees. The department had three years to become accredited.  In 2006, time was up and the department began paying penalties and fines for not completing the process.

One of the first questions I was asked by employees and residents when I arrived was, “Why are we seeking accreditation and how will it benefit us?”

The CALEA accreditation process is a proven modern management model. Once implemented, it presents police administrators, on a continuing basis, with a blueprint that promotes the efficient use of resources and improves delivery of services.

Accreditation places us in an elite status as a nationally recognized professional law enforcement agency.  We are constantly striving to maintain best practices in law enforcement. 

Accreditation also serves as a wellness tool for the department, because every three years outside professional assessors are invited to do an inspection.  A “checkup,” if you will.  This ongoing process ensures that we are constantly striving to be the best of the best among law enforcement agencies.

In 2006 we pulled together and, with the outside help of my good friend Milford Miller, who was then the police chief in Graham, and his staff, we pulled off a task that many (even the CALEA assessors) said could not be done in the length of time it took us.

All agency members pulled together and our initial accreditation was granted in 2007. We received reaccreditation in 2010.

When Milford retired from Graham, we were able to hire him on a part-time basis to be our accreditation manager and internal affairs investigator. 

This week, we will again undergo a review of our operations by CALEA assessors. If successful, we will be reaccredited for three more years.

Our operations, which will be reviewed by outside assessors, are a crucial part of ensuring that the police department continues to maintain the required high standards set out by CALEA. This time, assessors will be conducting interviews with residents, business owners, community leaders, and other law enforcement agencies to ensure our compliance with their high standards. 

These standards have been judged to be the “best practices in professional law enforcement” and they are what we strive for every day in Monroe.

As part of the process, we will hold a public hearing on Monday, May 6 at 6 p.m. in the City Council chambers at City Hall.  We invite you to come and observe or make any comments that you would like. If you can’t make it on Monday night, feel free to call the assessment team on Monday between the hours of 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.  The telephone number is 704-282-4798.

The three non-negotiable values I enforce at the Monroe Police Department – honesty and integrity, treat all persons with dignity and respect, and use the core principles of community policing in all our efforts – embody the basic principles of CALEA accreditation.

Monroe is committed to the accreditation process and is one of just a few cities that have both their police and fire departments accredited. Accreditation does not make us perfect, but it does make us better. I’m proud to be a part of it, and it’s another way you know that the MPD is working to serve you in the best way it can. 

Debra Duncan is police chief for the City of Monroe.