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Police Department CALEA Certification

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  • Police Department CALEA Certification

    The department in my town is currently going through the process to become CALEA certified. What, exactly,does this certification do for a department?
    The reason that I ask is because after talking to a few friends of mine who are on the police force many of them seem to feel that the department is heading in the wrong direction. They feel that this is due to the fact the department is more concerned with writing policies that will get them the certification than they are with law enforcement issues that affect the deparment.
    "Thats a pretty cool sidearm you got there....What is it?"
    "I don't know what its called, I just know the sound it makes when it takes a mans life"

  • #2
    To ensure that the Police Department is operating with the most updated policies and practices used in law enforcement, the department voluntarily entered into a contract with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) in 2000. CALEA was created in 1979 through the combined efforts of four major law enforcement organizations: the International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, National Sheriffs' Association, and Police Executive Research Forum. These organizations continue to serve in an advisory capacity to the Commission and are responsible for appointing members of the Commission.

    During the three-year self assessment phase, department staff reviewed and revised directives, made modifications to the policy facility and completed an extensive self-assessment to ensure compliance with 446 standards set forth by CALEA. A description of the process is listed below:

    PURPOSE OF ACCREDITATION

    The purpose of this accreditation process is to improve the delivery of professional and quality law enforcement services to the citizens of West Sacramento.

    ACCREDITATION PROCESS

    There were three distinct stages in this three-year accreditation process:

    1. Self Assessment

    2. Mock Assessment

    3. Site Assessment


    Self assessment

    In this stage the department examined it’s policies and procedures, management practices, methods of operation, and support services and applied them to the standards set forth by CALEA.


    For more about the program: http://www.calea.org/
    Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence!

    [George Washington (1732 - 1799)]

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    • #3
      What's that mean for the average patrol officer? Pretty much (in my humble opition as an officer who once worked for an accreditated department) that your department will have a policy for everything and that, no matter what you're doing, you're probably in violation of policy. CALEA certification takes all of the liability off of the department and puts it on the individual officer. So, when you screw up big or small and the department gets sued over it, you'll be found in violation of whatever arcane policy is in place for that particular scenario and the department will hang you out to dry, while they come out smelling like a rose.

      It also lowers the department's liability insurance (see above for the reason).

      If you hadn't figured it out, I think CALEA is a worthless organization created by retired administrators to make money by protecting the department at the expense of the individual officer. Others' opinions may vary.
      "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
      -Friedrich Nietzsche

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      • #4
        I absolutely agree with Bing Oh

        Its all politics. CALEA ensures that the agencies are up to a predefined standard, giving them a ton of guidelines to adhere to, that may, or may not exactly be neccessary, and forcing them to adopt every one of them as policy. Accredidation is an OK idea, but the problem is, alot of departments become all about "look at me, im accredited". Prime example: some of the burb' PDs in Illinois. The 'two bars and above' (captains) club spends 99.9% of their time making policy and stroking out when someone violates it, that they forget about the actual departmental mission. In the end, the dept. looks better but is less effective.

        /rant off.

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        • #5
          The average street LEO seldom sees the benefit of things like CALEA. Few of them have been intimately involved in the behind the scenes preparation in federal law suits. The street LEO doesn't see it because those are not the kinds of things they are involved in, even when they are sued. Sure CALEA requires policies. What those policies do is provide protection for the officers when these major suits occur. CALEA is a pain, no doubt about it. Been thru the process many times. I've also set with attorneys during suit preparation where these policies were drug out to protect the sued officers. I've also set with depts who had no or inadequate policies which left their officers out there hanging in the wind in the suits simply because they weren't prepared to protect them.
          If you are with an agency that does a good job of formulating policies and keeping them up to date then CALEA will not realize the benefit as with an agency who has out dated policies or no policies. CALEA will force those agencies to get their acts together and get current with their training methods, statutes, and court rulings. Unfortunately, the agencies without policies, inadequate policies, or out dated policies are the ones who would never do a CALEA inspection.
          183 FBINA

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          • #6
            Agree with Bing oh as well.

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            • #7
              Gives you a nice sticker to put on your cars. That's about it beyond what bing said.

              Comment


              • #8
                Amazing how something done in the name of good intentions can be twisted in a way that makes departments less effective.

                I've seen this in the corporate world, too, especially regarding quality policies. Though intended to reduce costs, quality programs generate reams of unproductive policy and end up specifying mediocrity.

                In the end, the implementation of a program like CALEA is only as good as the managers who brought it on. No amount of written policy can substitute for good managers.

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                • #9

                  I find myself (mostly) in agreement with Bing Oh as well. It provides a nice little sticker for your patrol car and a neat banner for your agency's web page. As far as the individual deputy/officer on the beat, I reckon it will not make a difference.

                  My old agency went through it and it really involved being "ready for an outside inspection" by people who were from some other state. We passed, but then not much was said about it in the aftermath. If your agency has CALEA certification, good for you. If not.....well, your brass willl probably be pushing for it to justify a budget increase.


                  I am in private industry and our company got that ISO 9000 (or whatever number comes after it) certification - which was a nice addition to the corporate logo, but nothing in the day to day operation changed at all.


                  It involved many "high up" things, but also was based upon yellow stripes painted on the floor near storage areas, red paint on cement poles in the warehouse and new cement blocks to prevent cars from pulling up too far in the parking spaces.



                  "What we need are more leaders and fewer managers!"
                  Last edited by VA Dutch; 04-11-2007, 08:00 PM.

                  The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

                  The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.

                  ------------------------------------------------

                  "Ignorance on fire is hotter than knowledge on ice."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Count me in Bing Oh's camp as well. We are attempting to get accreditation. It's resulted in a flurry of policy and procedure updates that are sometimes mutually exclusive..as someone said, no matter what you do you're violating some policy somewhere...plus, there are certain brass who use CALEA as a rationalization for everything they do...So far, I'm not impressed.
                    "Patrolling the Idiocracy"

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Drunkcop
                      Count me in Bing Oh's camp as well. We are attempting to get accreditation. It's resulted in a flurry of policy and procedure updates that are sometimes mutually exclusive..as someone said, no matter what you do you're violating some policy somewhere...plus, there are certain brass who use CALEA as a rationalization for everything they do...So far, I'm not impressed.
                      We are accredited and have a full-time civilian person assigned strictly to keep up with CALEA and General Orders.
                      I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..

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                      • #12
                        I guess not many others' opinions vary. Glad to see that I'm not just jaded, cynical, and totally out in left field.

                        Oh, and, my former department was much like SgtScott's...we had a lieutenant (who was of retirement age and at the top of the pay scale) who did nothing but CALEA accreditation stuff...no other duties, just CALEA paperwork and policy updates, 8 hrs a day, 5 days a week (with plenty of OT when re-accreditation time got close).
                        "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
                        -Friedrich Nietzsche

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Bing_Oh
                          I guess not many others' opinions vary. Glad to see that I'm not just jaded, cynical, and totally out in left field.

                          Oh, and, my former department was much like SgtScott's...we had a lieutenant (who was of retirement age and at the top of the pay scale) who did nothing but CALEA accreditation stuff...no other duties, just CALEA paperwork and policy updates, 8 hrs a day, 5 days a week (with plenty of OT when re-accreditation time got close).

                          yeah, we have a CALEA officer already as well.
                          "Patrolling the Idiocracy"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Mirrain
                            Gives you a nice sticker to put on your cars. That's about it beyond what bing said.

                            We have a CALEA pin we are "required" to wear on our uniforms or it's...you guessed it...violation of policy.

                            I've brought this same topic here before and was told (by obvious admins) that it's beneficial and yada yada yada...here's the reality from MY point of view and yes, I'm merely a lowly Officer and not admin. If CALEA is all that great, then why does it feel like the rest of us get shoved to the side and our concerns are never as important as the almighty policy. And whoever said you can't go to work w/o violation of policy...amen and pass the ammo, you're completely right. I've seen THREE Officers now who the PD wanted badly to be rid of for one reason or another and they were picked to dayum death by policy. Ever single little thing they did they were written up for...the irony was that many of us were doing the same things (difference between policy and practice you know) but no one else was written up. And yes, we have a civilian that does nothing but CALEA.
                            sigpic

                            I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

                            Comment

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