Law Enforcement Accreditation

C.A.L.E.A. Accreditation Process and the Riverdale Police Department

The Riverdale Police Department was officially accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) on August 1, 2009. In order to receive this accreditation the department had to show compliance with over 460 CALEA standards. In May two CALEA assessors reviewed every aspect of the department by examining the department’s files and written directives, interviewing employees, riding along with officers, and meeting with leaders and citizens from the community.

The Riverdale Police Department received very high marks from the assessors during their three day inspection. The assessment team was composed of an Assistant Chief from the Roanoke, Virginia Police Department and the 911 Center Director from the University of Vermont. In addition, the department received very positive remarks from the CALEA Review Board at the CALEA conference in Hampton, Virginia. This Review Board included the Chief of Police from Elgin, Illinois; the Sheriff of Marshall County, Iowa; the City Manager of Wyoming, Michigan; and the Chief of Police of Garden Grove, California.

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“The Riverdale Police Department is proud to be recognized as an Internationally Accredited Agency and looks forward to continuing to provide the Riverdale community with professional law enforcement services. This agency has come a long way in a short time, and the entire community should share in our pride.”

The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) was formed in 1979 by four major police organizations that wanted to establish standards ensuring professional business practices within the law enforcement community. The founding agencies were:

  • The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
  • The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE)
  • The National Sheriff’s Association (NSA)
  • The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF)

CALEA provides credentialing services for law enforcement agencies, public safety communications agencies, and public safety training academies. CALEA has participating agencies from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The CALEA Accreditation Process is a proven modern management model; once implemented, it presents the CEO, on a continuing basis, with a blueprint that promotes the efficient use of resources and improves service delivery – regardless of the size, geographic location, or functional responsibilities of the agency.

CALEA is not mandated by any governmental group but is a voluntary process sought by the Riverdale Police Department (RPD) as a commitment to professional law enforcement practices.

The goals of the CALEA process are to:

  • Strengthen crime prevention and control capabilities;
  • Formalize essential management procedures;
  • Establish fair and nondiscriminatory personnel practices;
  • Improve service delivery;
  • Solidify inter agency cooperation and coordination; and
  • Boost citizen and staff confidence in the agency.

Benefits of CALEA Accreditation Include:

  • Accredited agencies are better able to defend against lawsuits and citizens complaints. According to CALEA, agencies that are accredited experience 17 percent fewer lawsuits than non-accredited agencies. Additionally, when agencies are forced into financial payouts as a result of a lawsuit, CALEA accredited agencies pay out 33 percent less than non-accredited agencies.
  • Greater accountability within the agency. Accreditation standards give the Chief of Police a proven management system of written directives, sound training, clearly defined lines of authority, and routine reports that support decision-making and resource allocation.
  • Increased support from government officials. Accreditation provides objective evidence of an agency’s commitment to excellence in leadership, resource management, and service delivery.
  • Increased community advocacy. Accreditation embodies the precepts of community oriented policing. It creates a forum in which police and citizens work together to prevent and control crime.

There are five steps to the CALEA Assessment process:

Step One – Self Assessment

The Riverdale Police Department began the process to develop its policies and procedures as part of the State Law Enforcement Certification process. State certification was achieved in 2007, and we immediately began working to further develop the policies and procedures to meet obtain CALEA Accreditation. Written directives were written or revised as needed to meet the standards.

Step Two – Documentation

File folders for each of the 464 standards must contain the documentation necessary to show compliance with the standard’s requirements for written documentation, and material to show methods of compliance with the documentation. In December of 2008 a team of local accreditation experts were brought in to review the Department’s files and make suggestions for improvement. This “mock” assessment helped prepare the Department for the official CALEA on-site.

Step Three – On-Site Assessment

In May of 2009, a team of two CALEA appointed assessors came to Riverdale to conduct an on-site assessment and to inspect the CALEA files. The Team Leader was an Assistant Chief of the Roanoke, Virginia Police Department. He was assisted by the 911 Commander of the University of Vermont Police Department.

The assessors toured the Department, viewed a “static display” of departmental equipment (i.e., police cars, motorcycles, and equipment, etc.), conducted ride-a-longs with patrol officers and supervisors, conducted interviews with agency personnel, and held a public hearing and a call-in session to allow members of the public to express their thoughts on the Department.

Step Four – Accreditation

On August 1, 2009, at the summer CALEA Conference in Hampton, Virginia the Riverdale Police Department went before a committee of the CALEA Board of Commissioners who reviewed the report from the assessors. Following their vote to grant accreditation, the Department was awarded its initial accreditation at the conference celebration banquet. At this time the Riverdale Police Department became one of only twenty-one municipal law enforcement agencies in Georgia to hold CALEA accreditation, and the second in Clayton County to achieve this honor.

Step Five – Maintaining Accreditation

To maintain CALEA accreditation, the Police Department must maintain on-going file updates. Re-accreditation occurs every three years to ensure that agencies continue to abide by CALEA standards. CALEA assessors will be assigned to return and repeat the review process. The Riverdale Police Department is committed to upholding the professionalism represented by the CALEA Accreditation. This quality is characterized by:

  • Public Trust Through Partnerships,
  • Uncompromising Integrity,
  • Demonstrated Excellence,
  • Exceptional Personnel.

For more information, visit CALEA.

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