This week, the LaGrange Police Department was assessed by CALEA, Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, to determine the department’s performance and policy compliance.
Unlike previous accreditations, this year the LPD are reaching for a gold standard assessment, a higher standard and a more in-depth look at the agency.
Phillipp Crowell, assessment team leader and Chief of Police in Auburn, Maine, said the difference with a gold standard is the focus on staff, community and outcomes.
In a traditional accreditation, assessors will sit in a room and look through files for several days and evaluate the department based on those alone, Crowell said.
According to Crowell, 484 standards must be met in order for an agency to be accredited.
On-site assessors have been meeting with community members and leaders, observing officers’ performance and training, and looking at policies in practice.
In the incident where a gunman barricaded himself inside Waffle House Tuesday morning, assessors went out to the scene to observe the LPD agents in action.
Monday night, a community briefing was held at City Hall for people to speak to the LPD’s performance. According to Crowell, those who came out spoke highly of the department. A call-in session was also held Monday for people to call in with their comments, which were positive as well, according to Crowell.
Crowell said the assessment has shown that the LPD is well versed in the best practices in law enforcement.
“This is certainly a quality agency that produces great results,” he said
Crowell praised the department’s involvement with community organization and non-profits such as Harmony House.
Crowell also credited Chief Lou Dekmar for a high caliber agency. Dekmar was the past president of the commission for accreditation.
“From everything we’ve seen he’s a great leader for the city and community,” Crowell said.
Sgt. Karen Sanders, Accreditation Manager for the LPD’s Office of Professional Standards, said the department prepares year round for accreditation. Assessments are conducted every three years but Sanders said it’s a never-ending process on the LPD’s part.
Sanders said the department chose to be accredited on the gold standard so assessors could get a firsthand look at the daily operations rather than just look through files. She added that it gives the officers an appreciation for the process, letting them get involved.
“It ingrains in the agency professionalism as a way of doing business,” Darrin Abbink, assessment team member, added.
The on-site assessment concludes on Thursday, but the department will have to wait until summer for its conference with the CALEA commission to conclude the accreditation.