The Fairfield Police Department hopes to continue being one of the “gold standards” among police agencies.
The department is seeking reaccreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Two CALEA reviewers will meet this week with people inside and outside the Fairfield Police Department this week. This is the first time in two decades CALEA assessors will not be onsite.
“Normally we would be there on the ground, interacting with the department, looking at their operations, but times being as they are, there’s a system put in place for us to do this virtually,” said Jeff Pierce, a retired police captain from the Oklahoma City Police Department. He and Addison, Ill. police Sgt. Megan Freeman will conduct interviews through Zoom meetings and phone calls.
“Our job is to be the eyes and the ears for the commission,” said Pierce. “We go in and we look at the standards that apply to this agency. Make sure they’re doing what they say they’re doing.”
Fairfield Sgt. Rebecca Ervin said the department participates in the accreditation process because it “embraces being a professional organization and living up to law enforcement best practice standards.” Fairfield was first accredited in 2003.
“The re-certification process is a comprehensive review of the police department’s systems and processes as prescribed by CALEA standards in a continuous pursuit of excellence,” said Ervin, the department’s public information officer and its accreditation manager. “The Fairfield Police Department is a Gold Standard Agency and continued efforts to reach this achievement sets the benchmark for public safety professionalism.
There are more than 450 CALEA standards, but not all will apply to Fairfield. In 2018, the last time the agency went through the full accreditation review process, the Fairfield Police Department was in compliance with 318 mandatory standards and 66 other than mandatory standards. There were 94 standards that were not applicable.
The number of standards varies annually, said Pierce. New standards are adopted as old ones are phased out. Sometimes standards may also be combined.
“They’re all based on best practices of law enforcement and at the time, so it’s an evolutionary process,” he said.
Information complied is then reviewed by the commission to be discussed at quarterly meetings. It’s in those meetings that the accreditation decisions are made.
“There’s a lot of steps to the process,” Pierce said.
And accreditation is not a quadrennial event. According to the CALEA website, there are yearly status reports and web-based assessments in the three years between each full assessment.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into it. It’s time-consuming, but it’s time-consuming in a positive way,” Pierce said. “It keeps the agency in a constant state of reflecting on their own practices.”
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