The award, which was new this year, means the department is being progressive and proactive with policies.
“One of the biggest issues this year is social networks,” said Sgt. Karen Sanders, the department’s accreditation manager. “We were one of the first agencies to have a policy in place to address social networks.”
The Valdosta police was the other department in Georgia to earn the honor, which began this year.
“I was proud of us,” Sanders said.
This was the fifth time LaGrange police earned accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc.
CALEA accredits law enforcement agencies that have acceptable, consistent procedures, policies and practices for officers.
“There’s very few things CALEA says you have to do,” Sanders said. “They don’t tell you how to do business, they just tell you that you need to have a policy if you do something.”
Being accredited is a benefit to the department and officers, Sanders said.
“The main thing is it helps you with is that the officers knowing what to expect,” she said. “It also really helps you if there’s a lawsuits against the department. You’ve got everything you need if you are sued.”
Sanders said being accredited helps lay out polices on things such as promotions, hiring, recruiting and use of force.
The LaGrange department was initially accredited by CALEA in 1999 and has been accredited since then.
To be accredited, the department has an on-site assessment from two members of CALEA, who look at procedures and operations for the last three years.
“We actually participated in a new beta program this year where they actually went out with the officers and were talking to people,” Sanders said, saying in the past CALEA members have been in a room looking at reports.
The new process gave the assessors contact with more than 60 percent of the department, Sanders said.
“It gave the officers more input into the process,” she said. “The guys were nervous to begin with, but I told them just do what you do because you do it right.”
Sanders was honored with her own award for her work in preparing the department to be accredited. She received a plaque of appreciation at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
“I got to stand up and get the pretty plaque, but it was because of everybody,” she said. “It’s easy for me to do my job since the guys are doing things the way they’re supposed to.”
At the council meeting, Mayor Jeff Lukken said he was proud of the department and its work.
“I’m honored to be associated with the people in this police department,” he said.
Public Safety Director Lou Dekmar, who is also the chairman of the commission for CALEA, said he is appreciative of the work employees of the police department put in every day that have allowed the it to be accredited over the years.
“This is the fifth on-site review. … It ensures we’re providing the most effective level of services,” he said. “I’m very proud of the police department.”
Sanders already has started working in preparation for the next assessment, three years from now.
“Although they only come every three years, you have to have documentation to show them from each year,” she said. “I start now planning for them to come in three years. It’s an ongoing process.”
Matt Chambers can be reached at mchambers@ lagrangenews.com or (706) 884-7311, Ext. 228.