By NATHAN GREGORY
The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies visited Starkville over the past several days conducting an on-site assessment to ensure compliance with its standards at Starkville Police Department.
SPD initially sought and received CALEA accreditation in 2008 and 2010. The department is seeking an additional honor from the department that would move SPD up one tier from having CALEA recognition to having full CALEA accreditation. If SPD is granted this, it will be certified for three years.
In order for full accreditation to be considered, the department must show compliance with a list of almost 200 national standards.
CALEA was founded in 1979 as a credentialing authority to “improve the delivery of public safety services, primarily by: maintaining a body of standards, developed by public safety practitioners, covering a wide range of up-to-date public safety initiatives; establishing and administering an accreditation process; and recognizing professional excellence,” according to a statement on the organization’s website.
The accreditation program was established to enhance law enforcement service delivery, SPD Chief David Lindley said.
“We have attained in the past state accreditation by the state of Mississippi, which is in and of itself a major accomplishment as far as professional standards of conduct that are met,” Lindley said. “What we are currently pursuing is national accreditation which is the gold standard and even more difficult to attain than state accreditation. This is pinnacle of success as far as professional reputation for a law enforcement agency.”
CALEA assessors met with SPD officials Sunday through Tuesday and held a public hearing and call-in Monday at the Sportsplex in which members of the public were granted the opportunity to offer input about SPD’s overall performance.
The leader of the assessment team, Lebanon (Tenn.) Police Department Chief Scott Bowen, said he thought one of SPD’s strongest assets was its personnel.
“We look top to bottom throughout the agency. We like to talk to as many of the personnel as we can. We actually get to talk to the employees and interact with them. One of the things we saw was the professionalism of the employees. They were very forthcoming with all the information they had,” Bowen said. “(SPD is) very lucky to have the personnel it has being a smaller agency. I think that starts with Chief (Lindley).”
Once the assessors complete their review, they will report to the CALEA commission, which will then determine whether or not SPD meets the standard of national law enforcement accreditation.
Lindley said he believes SPD proved to be of the caliber necessary for national accreditation.
“We think we’re on track for that. The on-site assessment was successful in regards to us meeting all the pre-requisites,” Lindley said. “We hopefully will know something within the next few weeks as to whether we will be recommended and I think we will be.”
Lindley said the next time the 21-member commission will meet and take official action will be in November in Jacksonville, Fla.