Last month, the UNC Charlotte Police Department (UNCCPD) signed a contract with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) to become an accredited police department. On its webpage, CALEA states that its goals are to:
- Strengthen crime prevention and control capabilities;
- Formalize essential management procedures;
- Establish fair and nondiscriminatory personnel practices;
- Improve service delivery;
- Solidify interagency cooperation and coordination; and
- Increase community and staff confidence in the agency.
According to UNC Charlotte’s Chief of Police, Jeff Baker, CALEA is the gold standard for accreditation in America.
“It’s just like when you have an accredited university and in some cases you might have a non-accredited university. Which one do you want? Police departments that aren’t accredited sometimes can fall behind and find themselves in problems,” said Baker.
Although the process to becoming an accredited police department generally takes around three years, Baker plans to take measures to speed up the process.
“I’ve got a real aggressive plan, and we’re hoping to become accredited within 18 months,” said Baker
Currently, UNCCPD is in the self-assessment phase. During this step, the department determines how well their current procedures meet up to CALEA’s standards.
There are 482 standards that any given police department is required to meet in order to become accredited. Along with that, CALEA inspection teams will visit each accredited department three times annually to ensure that these standards are upheld.
“What’s interesting, you see, is that you have to meet those 482 standards whether you have 50 officers or 2,500. So, you see, I have the same standards to meet that CMPD has, even though they have 2000 officers and we have 52,” said Baker.
Once UNCCPD is finished with self-assessment, they will electronically submit their proofs. Four hundred and eighty-two proofs are submitted: one for each standard. A proof describes in detail how the department believes they have met a standard.
Baker noted that since he began at the UNCCPD as Chief, he has authored nearly 60 directives. As directives are unofficial proofs, he believes that they will cover around two-thirds of the needed proofs.
Once these proofs are sent to CALEA’s national office, the department will be reviewed. During this process, CALEA sends in three inspection teams to make sure that the proofs sent in to the national board match up to the practices taking place in the department. Additionally, the inspection teams will go into the field with officers and quiz them on the policies of their department.
Once the inspection teams are finished, the board meets one more time to determine whether the department will be accredited.
CALEA has a biannual conference at which they announce newly accredited departments and present them with accreditation documents.
“I believe in it because obviously I’m not always going to be here. And although I may be on top of things, you would want the next Chief to also be on top of things. Well, one way to ensure that is to be accredited. Because if you’re accredited, you have no choice. You have to stay on top of it.”
For further information on the UNC Charlotte Police Department, visit: http://police.uncc.edu