After recently earning state certification, the Conyers Police Department is aiming to achieve national accreditation - the most prestigious law enforcement distinction - by the end of the year.
Countless hours have been spent thoroughly preparing the department for the CALEA International Accreditation application process. CALEA stands for Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, and achieving the CALEA distinction is the "gold standard" in law enforcement and the flagship of certification internationally, according to CPD Maj. Scott Freeman. "The department has been working on polishing our standards," Freeman explained. "Earning the CALEA distinction instills confidence in the police department."
Many of the steps already taken by the CPD to regain state certification go hand-in-hand with the CALEA requirements. In addition, the department also had a rigorous Organizational Effectiveness and Efficiency Study completed by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police (GACP) last month. The study pointed to areas that needed strengthening prior to final CALEA assessment, which will be held in August.
While budget restraints will stymie any drastic and immediate recommendations made in the study, the GACP did suggest the department needs more officers and vehicles, in addition to new equipment and more room for investigations. But overall, according to a statement made by GACP Director Frank Rotondo during the city council last month, the CPD is "among the finest, if not the finest, departments in state."
Freeman said the department has focused heavily on fine-tuning policies and internal reviews as required for CALEA accreditation. A mock assessment conducted in May helped the department identify areas that will continue to be strengthened before official on-site assessment in August.
"We fared better than we thought we would but the mock gives us a benchmark as to where we stand on meeting the standards," Freeman said.
The CPD lost its state certification two years ago, before Chief Gene Wilson's appointment as police chief and shortly after he was hired as a public safety director. Following the loss of certification, then-Police Chief Dave Cathcart resigned.
According to Chief Wilson, the department is required to comply with a "solid and complete set of policies" that cover the following eight areas - the agency's role in the community, organization and management, personnel, legal, operations, support services, communications and holding areas.
City Manager Tony Lucas became fully aware of the lengthy and tedious process involved in attaining state certification when he was the Conyers' police chief in 2002.
“Having been involved in the original achievement of state certification, I am extremely pleased with the Police Department’s recent accomplishment," Lucas explained this week. "Through Chief Wilson’s leadership and direction, the police department is on track to achieve National Accreditation, CALEA Standards, by the year’s end. All city residents and businesses should be proud of the hard work of our police personnel in this arduous endeavor.”
The CPD will learn in November if the CALEA accreditation has been achieved. Both state certification and CALEA accreditation are effective for three years. The Covington Police Department in Newton County is the nearest CALEA accredited department.