The Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association introduced the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Program to the Commonwealth in July 2001. Since then, over 300 agencies have enrolled and 117 agencies currently have attained accredited status. The Sandy Township Police achieved initial accredited status in 2013 and passed reaccreditations in 2016 and 2019.
Accreditation is a progressive and time-proven way of helping institutions evaluate and improve their overall performance providing the opportunity to take a hard look at all facets of the department and to use this as a blueprint for change in pursuit of excellence.
The cornerstone of this strategy lies in the promulgation of standards containing a clear statement of professional objectives that provide the framework for developing policies, procedures, trainings, and for adopting the best practices.
Participating administrators conduct a thorough analysis to determine how existing operations can be adapted to meet these objectives. While the agency is going through the accreditation self-assessment process, progressive agencies pursue many best practices that enhance the minimum standards of accreditation. When the procedures are in place, a team of independent professionals is assigned to verify that all applicable standards have been successfully implemented. The process culminates with a decision by an authoritative body that the institution is worthy of accreditation.
Accreditation is not a onetime award. Annually, the agency must submit proof of compliance of selected standards; every three years, the department must undergo a complete reevaluation on-site. Continually working to retain an accredited status has put department staff in the constructive position of constantly having to rethink or innovate the approach to operations. As new challenges arise, the department must continue to change in order to maintain its professional edge to provide the highest quality of service.
HOW DOES SANDY TOWNSHIP BENEFIT FROM ACCREDITATION?
Controlled Liability Insurance Costs
Accredited status makes it easier for agencies to purchase police liability insurance; allows agencies to increase the limit of their insurance coverage more easily; and, in many cases, results in lower premiums.
Stronger Defense Against Lawsuits and Citizen Complaints
Accredited agencies are better able to defend themselves against lawsuits and citizen complaints.
Greater Accountability Within the Agency
Accreditation standards give the Chief of Police a proven management system of professional standards of written directives, sound training, clearly defined lines of authority, documentation and reports that support decision-making and resource allocation.
Staunch Support from Government Officials
Accreditation provides objective evidence of an agency’s commitment to excellence in leadership, resource management, justification of decisions relating to personnel policies and budget requests, and service-delivery. Thus, government officials are more confident in the agency’s ability to operate efficiently and meet community needs.
Increased Community Advocacy
Accreditation embodies the precepts of community-oriented policing and reinforces our agencies commitment to the public. Enhances community’s understanding of law enforcement, its goals, and objectives. It creates a forum in which police and citizens work together to prevent and control challenges confronting law enforcement and provides clear direction about community expectations. Assures the Department’s policies are effective, responsive, fair, and equitable and that the Department is providing services of the highest quality.
Accreditation builds upon this foundation and supports the six pillars identified by the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing report:
- Building Trust and Legitimacy: Adopting a Guardian mindset promoting trust and ensuring legitimacy through procedural justice, transparency, and accountability.
- Policy and Oversight: developing comprehensive and responsive policies on key topics while also implementing formal checks and balances and data collection/ analysis.
- Training and Education: Emphasizing the importance of high quality and effective training and education through partnership with local and national training facilities. Adopting a life learning mindset with employee development building human capital.
- Community Policing and Crime Reduction: Encourage the implementation of policies that support community-based partnerships in the reduction of crime.
- Officer Wellness and Safety: Enforcing practices that support officer wellness and safety through the revaluation of officer shift hours and analysis to help prevent injuries including the implementing of wellness programs that encourage healthy habits and routines.
- Technology and Social Media: Balancing embrace of technology and digital communications with local needs, privacy, assessment. Use is evaluated by by these conditions with monitoring in accordance with best practices and appropriate training.