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Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies

- CALEA -

Background

The Department first began exploring CALEA accreditation during the 1980's. It was felt that CALEA accreditation would further enhance the Department's professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness. In addition, it would increase the cooperation and coordination with other police agencies and the community we serve. The Gwinnett County Police Department was initially accredited by CALEA in 1993 and has maintained its accredited status ever since.  The re-accreditation process involves submitting annual reports to the Commission attesting to continued compliance with over 400 standards and an on-site assessment once every three (3) years. 

CALEA is a voluntary, non-governmental agency formed in 1979 by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the National Sheriff's Association (NSA), the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). Together, they have created a body of standards which have furthered the professional level of service offered by local law enforcement agencies.

Accreditation Process

The accreditation process consists of five general phases:

1.  Application

The accreditation process began when the Department applied to the Commission for applicant status. Entry into the program is voluntary, and once our eligibility was confirmed, the Department and the Commission signed an agreement that identified what was expected of each party.

2.  Self-Assessment

Self-assessment is a thorough examination by the Department to determine whether it has complied with all applicable standards. The Department prepares files and develops proofs of compliance for applicable standards and assembles them in a manner that would facilitate a review by Commission assessors. As a result of the self-assessment, numerous policies and procedures undergo review to improve operations and services. Among those are the Department's Emergency Vehicle Operations policy, Use of Force policy, Complaint Review Procedure, Personnel Policies, etc.  Police Chief Charles Walters has said, "The self-assessment period enables us to conduct a formal review of all Department operations in order to identify improvements in the delivery of services and to comply with the CALEA Commission's standards, furthering the professional level of our services."

3.  On-Site Assessment

An assessment team, composed of law enforcement practitioners from similar but out-of-state agencies, examines all aspects of the Gwinnett County Police Department procedures, management, operations and support services. The assessors review written materials, interview individuals about job functions, ride with patrol officers, conduct public hearings and visit offices and precincts to inspect and confirm our compliance.

4.  Commission Review

The assessor's final report is forwarded to CALEA and then assigned to a Commission Review Committee comprised of selected CALEA Commissioners.  The Review Committee conducts a hearing with the Chief of Police along with other key members of the Department regarding compliance with applicable standards.  The Review Committee will then make a recommendation to the full CALEA Commission for a final decision.  The Department was last re-accredited in 2010.

5.  Maintenance

To maintain accredited status, the Department must remain in compliance with all applicable standards and is required to submit annual reports to the Commission attesting to continued compliance. At the conclusion of each three-year period, the Commission conducts another on-site assessment to ensure compliance was maintained.

Value

CALEA accreditation was not an easy task. The re-accreditation process involved reviewing and maintaining compliance with all standards. Every policy and procedure within each division, section and unit throughout our organization was reviewed and compared to CALEA's professional standards. As we looked at each standard, we compiled documentation of our compliance. The successful re-accreditation process reflects favorably on the Department and the men and women who make our organization succeed every day. Of the more than 17,000 law enforcement agencies in the nation, approximately 600 have received full law enforcement accreditation through CALEA.

CALEA accreditation provides our Department with a framework within which it continues to improve the services offered to the residents of Gwinnett County. Accreditation is a coveted award that symbolizes professionalism, excellence, and competence.