CALEA Accreditation

The Commission on the Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies was developed in 1979 through a partnership of several professional academic law enforcement organizations. The purpose of the CALEA program is to analyze best practices and develop a set of standards that law enforcement must achieve to receive accredited status, exemplifying their dedication to professional police excellence. Less than 4% of all police agencies across the nation have been awarded full accreditation status through CALEA​.

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The Cumberland Police Department began pursuit of accreditation in 2012, entering into the self-assessment phase. During this phase the department examined itself to see how well they matched up with CALEA’s 484 standards. Following that assessment, the department made adjustments to policy and practices in order to better comply with accepted CALEA standards. 

In November 2014, the Cumberland Police Department underwent a comprehensive assessment process. During this phase, a team of assessors drawn from like accredited agencies across the country spent a week at CPD reviewing documents, interviewing employees and community members along with conducting public hearings. The team reported back to the Commission who reviewed the findings in preparation for the March hearing.

What is accreditation?

Accreditation recognizes professional excellence in law enforcement services by complying with national standards. Accreditation status for law enforcement agencies is similar to that of accredited institutions such as hospitals, colleges, and universities.
 

The Cumberland Police Department is pursuing accreditation to improve the administration of law enforcement services to the citizens of the City of Cumberland, Maryland, the employees of the CPD, and the community as a whole.
 

Goals of accreditation

 

The goals of CALEA are to:

1. Strengthen crime prevention and control capabilities.
2. Formalize essential management procedures.
3. Establish fair and nondiscriminatory personnel practices.
4. Improve service delivery.
5. Solidify interagency cooperation and coordination.
6. Boost citizen and staff confidence in the agency.
 
Becoming accredited

The accreditation process consists of the following phases:

 

1. Application.
2. Self-Assessment.
3. On-Site Assessment.
4. Commission Review.
5. Maintaining Compliance of Standards for Reaccreditation.

The Cumberland Police Department was awarded national accreditation at the CALEA conference in Reno, Nevada, on March 18, 2015. 

The accreditation period is for three years. During this time, the CPD must submit annual reports that document continuing compliance with applicable standards. Reaccreditation occurs at the end of the three years, pending another successful on-site assessment and hearing before the Commission.

Topics covered by accreditation

The standards address six major law enforcement subjects:

1. Role, responsibilities, and relationships with other agencies.
2. Organization, management, and administration.
3. Personnel administration.
4. Law enforcement operations.
5. Prisoner- and court-related services.
6. Auxiliary and technical services.

Compliance of applicable standards

Agencies that seek accreditation are required to comply only with those standards that are specifically applicable to them. Applicability is based on two factors: an agency's size and the functions it performs. Applicable standards are categorized as mandatory or other than mandatory. Agencies must comply with all applicable mandatory standards and 80 percent of applicable other-than-mandatory standards. If an agency cannot comply with a standard because of legislation, labor agreements, court orders, or case law, waivers may be sought from the commission.

 

Seeking to establish the best professional practices, the standards prescribe what agencies should be doing, but not how they should be doing it. That decision is left up to the individual agency and its chief executive officer.

Benefits of accreditation

  • Accreditation is a coveted award that symbolizes professionalism, excellence, and competence. It requires written directives and training to inform employees about policies and practices, facilities and equipment to ensure employees' safety, and processes to safeguard employees' rights. Employees can take pride in their department, knowing it represents the very best in law enforcement.
  • The CPD will be better able to defend itself against lawsuits and citizen complaints. Many agencies report a decline in legal actions against them once they become accredited.
     
  • Accreditation standards give the chief of police a proven management system of written directives, sound training, clearly defined lines of authority, and routine reports that support decision making and resource allocation.
     
  • Accreditation will provide objective evidence of the CPD's commitment to excellence in leadership, resource management, and service delivery. Thus, government officials are more confident in an agency's ability to operate efficiently and meet community needs.
     
  • Accreditation embodies the precepts of community-oriented policing. It creates a forum in which the police and citizens work together to prevent and control crime. This partnership helps citizens understand the challenges confronting the CPD and gives the department clear direction about community expectations.

For more information about the accreditation process, contact the CPD Accreditation Section at 301-759-6475 or The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. at (703)352-4225.