Countless hours and ceaseless determination paid off this week when the Conyers Police Department received CALEA International Accreditation, the most prestigious law enforcement distinction, following a year-long 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.
“I am very proud of all the people, not only in the police department, but in the city who helped us with the entire accreditation process,” CPD Chief Gene Wilson said Monday. “It really took about every area of the city because of all the different policies. It took effort from everybody and I have been very proud of that. It meant a great deal to me that both the city manager and the mayor were there when the award was presented.”
The CALEA Commission met to review the application in Jacksonville last weekend and CPD won unanimous approval, according to Chief Wilson.
“In some ways, there is a sense of relief, but there is also a real sense of accomplishment looking back on all there was to do but also on the things we needed to do such as practices and policies to update," Chief Wilson said. The department was 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.
CPD joins the ranks of 45 law enforcement agencies in Georgia and more than 1,000 agencies internationally that are CALEA accredited, with the Covington Police Department in Newton County being the closest CALEA accredited department. Both state certification and CALEA accreditation are effective for three years with another intensive review being held in order to continue CALEA accreditation in 2015.
CALEA was formed to develop a set of law enforcement standards and to establish and administer an accreditation process through which law enforcement agencies demonstrate voluntarily that they meet professionally-recognized criteria for excellence in management and service delivery.
Over one year, the department completed an intense examination and evaluation of the operations of the department that consisted of 480 standards. Conyers Police concentrated on improving property and evidence procedures, courtroom procedures, forming a strategic plan and workforce analysis.
“When our officers, Mayor Randy Mills and the city council committed to applying for CALEA accreditation in June 2011, it was understood that this was a group effort," Chief Wilson said. "Every officer and city employee has contributed in some way to achieving CALEA accreditation,” Chief Gene Wilson said. “It was gratifying to be rewarded and recognized for what we’ve worked so hard for: international accreditation.”
A formal presentation to the city will be held in December.
CPD regained state certification in February this year after losing state certification two years ago. Many of the steps already taken by the CPD to regain state certification went hand-in-hand with the CALEA requirements.
Both state certification and CALEA accreditation are voluntary marks of distinction.