The Cool House: Police accreditation

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Police accreditation

Here's a staggering bit of news I learnt this past week: of the 550 police forces in New York State only 123 are accredited. I found this out because the Incorporated Village has just become the smallest village in New York to achieve this status.
The goals of accreditation are to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement agencies utilizing existing personnel, equipment and facilities to the extent possible; to promote increased cooperation and coordination among law enforcement agencies and other agencies of the criminal justice services; to ensure the appropriate training of law enforcement personnel; and to promote public confidence.
I don't know what perturbs me more about this, the fact that more than 3 out of 4 police forces in NYS aren't accredited. Or the fact that most other residents are neither surprised nor concerned. Or that while the process is cost-free, funding has to be sought for things like the installation of a new evidence locker, which is a necessary piece of equipment for certification. I have to ask: What were they using before, Tupperware?
There are other troubling issues, too. I may be naive but aren't the above "goals" a standard part of police procedure? If so, why do police forces need to be accredited? And what is the point of an accreditation process if it is voluntary? This is apparently a "prestigious" program that has to be repeated every five years. So if a police force isn't accredited, or loses its accreditation, isn't it just a security force?
The Incorporated Village's population is approximately 1500. It has a full-time staff of six police officers. I'd be interested to know whether your country or state has an accreditation process, if your local police force is accredited and what the police to population ratio is.


Joanne said...

Jeez, that's bizarre. I never knew law enforcement agencies were accredited. I looked up my local city Web site, and Evanston is accredited with the Commisson on Accreditation for Law Enforcement; it pops up right on the main page. I'm not sure what our police-to-population ratio is, I couldn't find the info on the site, but we border Chicago so I assume it's pretty high.

modernemama said...

CALEA is a nationwide accreditation program whereas The NYS Law Enforcement Accreditation Council has "exclusive authority to grant accreditation status" in New York.
That leads me to ask who is accrediting the accreditors. (Nice set of badges CALEA has btw)

SmilingJudy said...

In my experience, the only agencies that earn accreditation are those that have very few "real" crimes to stay busy with. They are generally suburbs of good-sized cities with a large tax base. Accreditation is used to help lure new homebuyers into the area. These are the ones that have the time to jump through all the hoops to show they know what they're doing.....whether they really do or not.

I know very little facts about it though. This is based on my own observations in various midwestern suburbs. YMMV.