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July 19, 2011 > Police department demonstrates standards of excellence

Police department demonstrates standards of excellence

By Simon Wong

Hayward Police Department (PD) has been recognized for its professionalism and efficacy by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) which was established in 1979 through the efforts of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, National Sheriffs' Association and the Police Executive Research Forum. These agencies recognized the need for national standards.

More than 20 years ago, Hayward PD was the first agency accredited west of the Mississippi when Alameda County Sheriff Emeritus Charles C. Plummer was Hayward Police Chief. After his election as Sheriff, the department's accreditation lapsed until Chief Ron Ace's appointment.

Accreditation not only means an agency meets CALEA's set of 464 exacting standards but elected officials, chiefs of police, line officers and civilian employees serve constituents more effectively and fairly; the accreditation process includes the creation of an on-going blueprint for efficiency and improved service delivery. CALEA aims to strengthen crime prevention and control capabilities; formalize essential management procedures; establish fair and non-discriminatory personnel practices; improve service delivery; reinforce inter-agency cooperation and coordination; and increase community and staff confidence in the agency.

The standards address all aspects of law enforcement, from the type of equipment the agency uses to the protection of constitutional rights... to issues involving force, and are continually reviewed and updated so they remain current with technology, contemporary practices, evolving legislation and trends.

The CALEA Board has 21 members - 11 law enforcement practitioners, selected internationally; the 10 other members represent business, academia, the judiciary and state/provincial and local government. The Commissioners serve without remuneration.

When an agency decides to seek accreditation, it receives a copy of the standards manual and undertakes self-assessment. It generates policies, procedures and written directives and organizes training to ensure policies are properly implemented by the personnel responsible for those duties. CALEA's accreditation program gives public safety agencies an opportunity to voluntarily demonstrate they meet an established set of professional standards.

"This award can only be achieved through teamwork. Having been a CALEA assessor for 10 years and a Commissioner for eight, I have reviewed and written hundreds of assessment reports for a variety of agencies, nationwide. In Hayward PD's case, the department's staff is committed to excellent law enforcement services and community policing," stated Chief Lou Dekmar, CALEA Commission Chair and Chief of Police, LaGrange, Georgia.

Many agencies seeking accreditation do not stay the course. When an agency thinks it complies with all the standards, it undergoes on-site assessment. A team of law enforcement practitioners from North America and beyond verifies compliance of written directives, proper training, supervision, discipline, corrective action and reviews policies to ensure they are updated; the team also collects and reviews data to identify patterns or trends that necessitate policy changes or further training. The resultant assessment report is assigned to one of the CALEA Commissioners who, supported by a panel of commissioners, questions the agency. The report and interview's findings are considered. The decision to award Hayward PD accreditation was unanimous.

Hayward PD completed the accreditation process in two years, instead of the usual three, a feat achieved by only five other agencies out of the thousands that have embarked on the accreditation process since Dekmar was appointed a Commissioner.

"In my opinion, the most significant part of the CALEA process is the opportunity for outsiders to assess an agency objectively. The process isn't a mere formality. Of the more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States, fewer than 1,000 are accredited. Many agencies are reluctant to subject themselves to third-party scrutiny and expose any deficiencies; it involves risk and also requires the agency to be open to change and demonstrate it can conduct business in a manner that meets contemporary law enforcement standards," explained Dekmar. "Hayward PD has welcomed scrutiny and peer review and is well-positioned to serve the community."

The accreditation has tremendous benefits which include international recognition, increased accountability and reduced liability. Most importantly, Hayward PD has demonstrated significant improvements in its administrative and operational processes; Hayward's citizens will benefit.

Dekmar praised Hayward PD for embracing 'the spirit of accreditation,' using the process as a tool to increase performance, service and agency professionalism. Quoting from the assessment report, the agency clearly understands that a successful police department must develop and foster support from the community - "Hayward PD has shown a commitment to the City of Hayward through community involvement and crime prevention. Professionalism is a hallmark of Hayward PD and is reflected from the command staff, through the ranks to civilian personnel and even within agency policy."

"Once again, Hayward PD joins the ranks of accredited agencies and stands as a leader in professional police services. Each member of Hayward PD, civilian and sworn, should be very proud," remarked Dekmar.

"The commitment, dedication and service of the men and women of Hayward PD made accreditation possible. Those same people will be part of the department in the future. I'm very proud to be associated with Hayward PD. CALEA accreditation is a very significant accomplishment and will guide the police department, maintain standards and improve service. I'd like to thank Fran David and Council for their support, Lt. Mark Mosier for serving as our Accreditation Manager and keeping everyone on track and Hayward PD's sworn and non-sworn members who make the department a great agency," said Hayward PD Chief Ron Ace.

"Chief Dekmar's attendance means a lot to us. We're extremely proud of Chief Ace, Lt. Mosier and the men and women of Hayward PD. We must also recognize our former city manager, Greg Jones, who was in post when the accreditation process began, and Charlie Plummer for his service when Hayward PD was first accredited," concluded Mayor Michael Sweeney.

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