The Forest Park Police Department has completed the nearly three-year arduous task of seeking initial accreditation from CALEA in our efforts to become an internationally accredited law enforcement agency.
The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) is an organization founded by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), National Sheriff's Association (NSA), National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).
For our agency, accreditation is an important endeavor for excellence and professionalism. While the department has had solid policies and procedures since our inception, CALEA requires the department to ensure existing policies are contemporary, comprehensive, well thought out, uniform and adhere to Law Enforcement Accreditation Program standards. CALEA also requires an emergency preparedness plan be in place and is a means for improving upon our relationship with the community. Accreditation strengthens our service delivery and accountability, both within the department and the community, through recognized professional standards that clearly define authority, performance, and responsibilities.
In order to do this the Commission has developed comprehensive written standards covering every aspect of law enforcement policies, procedures, practices and operations and has become the primary method for a law enforcement agency to voluntarily demonstrate its commitment to excellence in law enforcement. The Law Enforcement Accreditation Program standards reflect the current thinking and experience of law enforcement practitioners and researchers. Major law enforcement associations, leading educational and training institutions, governmental agencies, as well as law enforcement executives internationally, acknowledge CALEA’s Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies and its accreditation programs as benchmarks for professional law enforcement agencies. Because this process is so rigorous not all law enforcement agencies in the United States choose to become accredited. It is a highly valued mark of professional excellence for an agency to voluntarily participate in CALEA.
In July 2020, the department underwent a “mock” assessment which highlighted areas which needed to be addressed. In October of 2020, the department underwent a “web-based” assessment which prepared the agency for the official assessment. Due to Covid-19 the normal 4 day, in-person assessment visit had to be conducted virtual using “Zoom” technology. On November 30th and December 1st, two assessors (see their bios below) assigned to “visit” our agency, interviewed over a dozen employees and public officials. The team examined multiple areas of focus of the department and its operations to ensure compliance with CALEA standards.Additionally, Public notices of the assessment process were posted on the city web-site and public areas throughout the city. These notices invited residents, city leaders, and our clergy partners to participate in a “call-in” session with the assessors to discuss the department and provide public comment. Several of our residents, clergy and business leaders, as well as other police agency leaders, spoke with the assessors about the police department. The public was also invited to an in-person virtual “zoom” session where residents could speak directly to the assessors. Several individuals braved the first snowfall of the season to speak with the assessors. The assessment concluded on the afternoon of December 1. In the post-assessment interview, the assessors indicated our agency was well prepared and would recommend our agency for accreditation to the Commission. The process will take a few months for the Commission to decide if Forest Park has met the rigorous standards to be accredited. Once our agency is determined to have met the criteria for accreditation, the award will be presented at the spring CALEA conference in March.
CALEA Accreditation is action and it occurs perpetually through the dynamic nature of standards. Even now we are now working to convert our policies and procedures to comply with CALEA’s newest edition of its Law Enforcement Standards Manual. Once accredited we will undergo our next annual web-based review of our standards compliance in October 2021. Our next site-based review with a team of assessors would be in November of 2024.
We invite our residents to learn more about CALEA and the accreditation process by visiting https://calea.org/ If you have any questions or wish to provide comments to the commission about our accreditation process, please contact Accreditation Manager Lt. James Ward, at 513.595.5220