As discussed in the article What is law enforcement accreditation, accreditation is a systematic, internal review of policies, procedures, training, and operations – all of which are measured against an accrediting body’s standards manual to prove compliance.
It can be viewed as a sort of “blueprint” of what a high functioning, professional agency should be doing. As it is with any organization in any industry, having a strong foundation of adopting industry best practices helps drive excellence in service delivery.
In this article, you will learn what accreditation provides, and the benefits of accreditation to your agency, the community, and the city.
What accreditation provides
Accreditation gives your agency a proven framework to self-reflect and evaluate your policies, training, and practices against a set of standards. Many standards go a step beyond state or federal law, giving your agency and city leaders confidence you are seeking to be the best performing agency possible.
Benefits to your agency
Accreditation requires that there are certain policies and training in place. It also ensures that officers can access those policies easily, have read them, and understood/were trained on them. Given the high-liability nature of many law enforcement activities, this level of accountability can help protect both the officer and agency in the event of an incident. Or on the flip-side, it provides documented evidence that an officer acted outside of policy, and gives sergeants the justification needed to take disciplinary action.
Accreditation provides objective third-party validation that your agency is doing the right things and complying with the policies and procedures you implemented. An acknowledgement of excellence is much more impactful when earned via an objective third-party validation.
Increased support and collaboration from other agencies
Accreditation creates opportunities to interface and network with other agencies at conferences, Police Accreditation Coalitions (PACs), and onsite assessments. This creates opportunities to learn from one another, share new ideas, and ask for help when needed.
Reduced risk and potential for costly payouts
Accreditation helps agencies operate more professionally and become better prepared for potential lawsuits. In the event of a lawsuit, the first things a plaintiff’s attorney will ask for are documentation of the alleged incident, the policy in place, and proof the officer signed and was trained on the policy.
Accreditation requires an agency to implement systems and processes that ensure all of the items requested by a plaintiff’s attorney are in place. Policy development, tracking officer acknowledgment of policies, and testing/training officers on critical policies are all part of the accreditation process. While this won’t stop the lawsuits from happening in the first place, it gives an agency the necessary tools to defend itself.
Benefits to your community
Demonstrates your commitment to the community
Accreditation creates opportunities for you to work together with your community and get their feedback on your policing efforts. This can build bridges with community members and help fuel a more effective community policing program.
Delivers more efficient and effective services
Accreditation requires frequent policy review, which means they become living breathing documents, rather than artifacts in a binder collecting dust. Ongoing policy review helps your agency evaluate “the ways things are” on a regular basis to ensure your operations are as efficient and effective as they could be.
Benefits to your city
Improved government relations
One of the benefits of accreditation is that you can show your city level leaders (Mayor, City Manager, etc.) that your department is committed to excellence in leadership, resource management, and service delivery. You'll be able to show city leaders the documented processes and objective evidence that you're working to perform at the highest level.
Reduction in liability insurance costs
Many risk pools provide their members liability insurance discounts if they achieve and maintain accreditation. Check with your local pool to see if they offer this incentive program.
The benefits of accreditation may sound appealing, but you’re probably wondering if your agency has the resources to get accredited. Our next article in this series will discuss tips for achieving accreditation. Learn how accreditation can be attainable for an agency of any size and budget.