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Accreditation: A 21st Century Necessity?

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 40 Issue: 9 Dated: (September 1992) Pages: 84-88
R L Snow
Date Published
5 pages
After profiling the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA), this article discusses the nature and process of police department accreditation, and the cost and benefits of accreditation.
CALEA was established in 1979 as a joint effort of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Police Executive Research Forum, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and the National Sheriffs' Association. It administers a voluntary program under which police agencies can be measured against national standards developed by staff members of the four parent bodies. In achieving accreditation, an agency demonstrates that it meets or exceeds the law enforcement standards set by CALEA. Over 900 standards address such matters as contractual agreements, allocation and distribution of personnel, career development, disciplinary procedures, intelligence, traffic administration, training, patrol, holding facilities, communications, property management, and virtually every other law-enforcement function. Departmental self-assessment is the largest part of the accreditation process. Each department must provide proof of compliance with the standards. Self-assessment is followed by a CALEA onsite assessment that takes about 1 week. The CALEA Commission determines whether or not a department will be accredited. In addition to a $250 application fee, departments must pay a fee that ranges from $5,845 (for a size A agency) up to $23,375 (for a size F2 agency). Since accreditation lasts only 5 years, accreditation costs must be regularly budgeted. The benefits of accreditation are improved police effectiveness, identification of problem areas, the development of documentation of performance, decreased insurance premiums, decreased liability potential, and demonstration to the community that its police department runs a state-of-the-art operation.