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Why this local police department is a 'gold standard' of agencies

The city’s police department has once again achieved a gold standard level of accreditation.

Assessors with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA, spent four days with the Fairfield Police Department and community leaders for a triennial review of the department.

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La Plata (Maryland) Police Chief Carl Schinner and Munster (Indiana) Police Lt. Daymon Johnston reviewed the department, and both said the department was in compliance with 318 mandatory standards and 66 other than mandatory standards. There were 94 standards that were not applicable.

“I’ve done quite a few (reviews), and from my experience, this is one of the best agencies that I have been to, and I don’t say that to say it,” said Schinner, a 31-year police veteran. “Clean on-sites are few and far between, and this was a clean on-site.”

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The city will receive its official accreditation certificate this summer, which will be department’s sixth in the past two decades. Gold standard assessments, Schinner said, focus on outcomes and processes.

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“You’ve got a good recruitment plan, you have good policies on your selection and hiring, and they’ve all been in place for a long time,” he said. “So as assessors when we come in, an agency that’s been accredited this long, there’s some assumptions we are able to make, and that is your policies are sound. So our job is to focus on outcome.”

Schinner and Johnston interviewed dozens of people, including police officers, dispatchers, members of the clergy and community leaders.

“All of them pointed back to the same thing — that this is a service-oriented police department,” Schinner said.

“It looks like the outcome of all your hard work for all those years is paying profit by the people you are hiring, and they’re going out into the community, and they’re doing a very good job,” he said.

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Johnston said every aspect he reviewed was “squared away,” from the property clerk’s upkeep of the evidence room — because “that’s where we can lose cases if it’s not done correctly” — to the city’s crime prevention and its Quick Response Team.

“That follow up in this (opioid) crisis we’re having is sorely needed, and sometimes neglected,” Johnston said of the QRT. “It’s an excellent program that you guys do.”

He also said CALEA assessors “steal” ideas from the departments they review. From Fairfield, he said he’s “stealing” how the city’s’s school resource officers works with its schools.

“There’s a very big question these days to move towards more officers in the school, and the fact that you have your officers try to do walks in the schools is a great idea,” Johnston said. “It’s good you can get the faces in the schools.”

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