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Johns Creek Police Department re-up for accreditation: Assures professionalism within force



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Evidence technician Mavis Ellison places an object for fingerprinting in the lab into a box that liquefies and then sprays Super Glue on the surface. This captures fingerprints that otherwise might be too faint to get otherwise. HATCHER HURD. (click for larger version)
April 10, 2013
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – The Johns Creek Police Department attained accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc. (CALEA) in 2010, two years after the department was founded. This was quickest a police force has achieved CALEA certification, but now three years later, it is time to become re-certified.

“With CALEA, it is not something you achieve and then relax. CALEA certification is an ongoing process,” said JCPD Chief Ed Densmore.

“It’s a program that assures we have the best policies and procedures toward everyone we serve. That includes the community, the city itself and our employees.”

CALEA’s accreditation program was established in 1979 to establish a nationwide set of standards in all areas of police work and management. The effort was headed up by the National Association of Law Enforcement Executives, the International Chiefs of Police Association, the National Sheriff’s Association and other professional law enforcement groups so that there would be an accreditation process that would ensure the certified law enforcement agencies met rigorous standards in all areas of policing that included the best practices as established by CALEA.

This certification requires law enforcement agencies to comply with 280 applicable state-of-the art standards in four basic areas: policy and procedures, administration, operations and support services.

But attaining certification is only the first step. Law enforcement agencies must then demonstrate they are keeping up with the changes as policies and procedures are updated. Thus, every three years, CALEA assessors come out for two or three years to visit the department to interview officers and senior command staff.

Then they interview city officials such as the city manager, human resources manager and finance director. They also talk to local citizens and solicit their comments orally or by mail and email.

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Crime scene investigator Tanesha Taylor must follow CALEA’s best practices in an investigation including bagging, transporting and securing evidence. HATCHER HURD. (click for larger version)
The assessors will have already examined the current policies and procedures to check that they have been updated.

“The standards are always being updated to comply with changes in the laws and new ideas in law enforcement. So you are constantly having to prove yourself,” Densmore said.

“Then the assessors write a report and it is reviewed by the 21 CALEA commissioners, who then make recommendations to the agency to retain its accreditation.”

The JCPD is considered a mid-sized agency with 61 sworn officers and nine civilian staff.

Many police departments have an officer dedicated as the CALEA compliance officer (Johns Creek has a compliance officer, but she has other duties as well). While there are 280 standards over the four areas of policing, within those standards are many subsections so that compliance requires a lot of oversight.

“So it is actually an ongoing process,” Densmore said. “The benefit is when there is new case law or other practices and procedures that come out, we are addressing these issues. So it forces the departments to continually pursue the updates.

“It covers everything from hiring policies to promotion standards and training standards. There is no area CALEA does not cover.”

But CALEA accreditation also provides assurances to the chief, to the city administration and to the public that the department is following those policies and procedures.

“It is a very hard standard to maintain,” Densmore said. “That is why only about 10 percent of all law enforcement agencies across the country are CALEA accredited. But what it does is ensures how you are operating meets the best accepted practices out there.”

North Fulton is well represented by CALEA. Johns Creek joined the police departments of Alpharetta, Roswell and Sandy Springs as accredited agencies. Milton is working on their accreditation.

The two assessors who evaluate the department will be other police officers who are CALEA-trained. They will not be from this state or region. For example, the Johns Creek assessors will be Director Richard White of the Portage, Mich., Police Department, and Capt. Craig Smith of the Cumberland, Maine, Sheriff’s Office. They will spend April 21-22 evaluating and interviewing before they make their report.

“I have been an assessor and was out a few weeks ago in Ohio. Assessors will not evaluate the same department again, and they won’t be paired up with the same assessor again. CALEA wants to be sure the assessments are independent with no connection back to the department being assessed,” Densmore said.

Police accreditation team seeks public comment

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – The Johns Creek Police Department is seeking re-accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc. (CALEA).

Part of the on-site evaluation by a CALEA assessment team includes a public information session Monday, April 22, at 6 p.m. in the courtroom of the Johns Creek Police/Municipal Court complex, 11445 Johns Creek Parkway.

Members of the community and JCPD employees unable to make the April 22 meeting are invited to offer comments by phone at 678-474-1545 Sunday, April 21, between 3 and 5 p.m.

Telephone comments as well as appearances at the public information session are limited to 10 minutes and must address the JCPD’s ability to comply with CALEA’s standards.

“Accreditation by CALEA can assure the public that their police department is being run well and that they can expect high standards of professionalism,” said JCPD Chief Ed Densmore. “We look forward to hearing comments from the public as we go through the process.”

A copy of the standards is available at the Johns Creek Police/Municipal Court complex or by visiting www.calea.org/content/law-enforcement-program-standards. For information, call Cheri Akselsen at 678-474-1575.

Written comments about the Johns Creek Police Department’s ability to meet the standards for advanced accreditation should be sent to: Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement, Inc., 13575 Heathcote Blvd. Suite 320, Gainesville, Va. 20155; or emailed to calea@calea.org.

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