3 local police agencies seek elite accreditation

(File photo)


WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Three of the biggest police departments in West Michigan are working to get the gold standard for law enforcement accreditation.

The Grand Rapids Police Department, Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and Wyoming Department of Public Safety are seeking accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

CALEA was formed in 1979. Wyoming Department of Public Safety Chief James Carmody explained its creation was the result of national problems with law enforcement and the way police handled events like the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war.

“Cops didn’t do very well, obviously, when you look at the records from back in those days and there were some pretty nasty things that went on,” Carmody said.

It was clear, he continued, that there was a need to professionalize law enforcement. The solution was to create national standards.

There were originally 800 standards that departments needed to meet to get CALEA accreditation, but that has been narrowed to 484. They involve everything from search and seizure to use of deadly force.

“For the community, it’s about transparency and accountability,” Carmody said of the effort. For the department, “It’s a constant internal check.”

The process to get CALEA accreditation is extensive. It starts with a police department reporting how it meets each standard. Members of the accreditation team then visit the department. The team interviews citizens, people from the schools, officers and even the local media about the police department. All of that information is put into a roughly 30-page report. The report is then given to the board, which grants or denies the accreditation.

“I hope more and more departments (seek accreditation). There are 1,8000 police departments in this country and just about a thousand that are nationally accredited,” Carmody said.

The cost for the accreditation is $3,500 per year. The Wyoming Department of Public Safety will learn in March if it meets the standards.