On September 10, 2009, the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission voted to grant accreditation status to the Rowley Police Department for a third time. The Rowley Police Department was the first agency in the State of Massachusetts to achieve Certification in 2002. One year later in 2003 we became the 13th agency to achieve full accreditation. We have successfully re-accredited in 2006 and now in 2009.
Accreditation is a self-initiated evaluation process by which police departments strive to meet and maintain standards that have been established for the profession, by the profession. These carefully selected standards reflect critical areas of police management, operations, and technical support activities. They cover areas such as policy development, emergency response planning, training, communications, property and evidence handling, use of force, vehicular pursuit, prisoner transportation and holding facilities. The program not only sets standards for the law enforcement profession, but also for the delivery of police services to citizens of the commonwealth.
“Achieving Accreditation from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission is considered a very significant accomplishment, and is a recognition that is highly regarded by the law enforcement community,” said Donna Taylor Mooers, the Commission’s Executive Director.”
Under the leadership of Chief Kevin Barry, the Rowley Police Department was assessed in August by a team of Commission-appointed assessors. The Assessment Team found the Department to be in compliance with all applicable standards for Accreditation.
“Going through the process initially requires intense self-scrutiny, and ultimately provides a quality assurance review of the agency,” said Mooers. In order to conduct the initial self-assessment and prepare for the on-site review of the 253 standards by the Commission, each department must have an accreditation manager. Deputy Chief Robert Barker has served in this position since the program began, having been appointed by Chief Barry in 1998 while serving as Lieutenant. Due to a major revision of the standards Officer David Sedgwick was brought in to help during this accreditation and played a significant role in our success.
The Commission offers two program awards: Certification and Accreditation, with Accreditation being the higher of the two. Accreditation has been granted for a period of three years. Participation in the program is strictly voluntary.
COMPOSITION OF THE COMMISSION
The Commission consists of an eleven member Board of Directors. Six members are appointed by the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, two by the Coalition of Accreditation Managers of Massachusetts, one by the Massachusetts Municipal Association and one by the Massachusetts Police Association. The eleventh member is left for the Board to elect; that member must be affiliated with an academic institution. According to Mooers, “the Commission’s primary role is to establish and administer both the standards and the assessment process by which departments meeting accreditation standards can be publicly recognized for their achievements.”
Massachusetts is one of twenty-four states that offer an accreditation process for its police departments.
BENEFITS OF ACCREDITATION
The standards for accreditation impact officer and public safety, address high liability/risk management issues, and generally promote operational efficiency throughout the agency. The benefits are therefore many and will vary among participating departments based on the state of the department when it enters the process. In other words, the benefits will be better known when the department quantifies the changes that it made as a direct result of achieving accreditation. Generally, these changes involve policy writing, facility improvements and equipment purchases. Listed below are some of the more common benefits.
- provides a norm for an agency to judge its performance.
- provides a basis to correct deficiencies before they become public problems.
- requires agencies to commit policies and procedures to writing.
- promotes accountability among agency personnel and the evenhanded application of policies.
- provides a means of independent evaluation of agency operations.
- minimizes an agency’s exposure to liability, builds a stronger defense against lawsuits, and has the potential to reduce liability insurance costs.
- enhances the reputation of the agency and increases the public’s confidence in it.
Mooers added, “Police Certification and Accreditation serve to reassure the general public that the law enforcement profession is trained, prepared and ready to handle routine calls for service including large scale emergencies. Agency preparedness begins with having a current written directive system that incorporates best business practices into agency policies and operational plans.”
The Commission would appreciate receiving a copy of any articles printed. Please mail to:
Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission
9 Bartlet Street #356
Andover, MA 01810