New Police Chief seeks Accreditation

Valley City’s new police chief has some new ideas and lofty goals for the Valley City Police Department and is working with the Valley City City Commission to bring those to life.

“We’re currently in discussion with the city commission to see if they’ll go along with what I would like to do, but my biggest push is to get the police department internationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA),” said Chief Fred Thompson.

Thompson said being accredited gives the department a better foundation on how to operate. CALEA’s goals are to strengthen crime prevention and control capabilities, formalize management procedures; establish fair an nondiscriminatory personnel practices; improve services; strengthen cooperation and coordination with other agencies and increase confidence in the police department.

“It would bring the department up to the best practices from around the country for law enforcement,” Thompson said.

Of the approximately 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the country, less than 1,000 are accredited. In North Dakota, only the Bismarck Police Department and the State Highway Patrol hold that honor, and Grand Forks is planning to undergo the process.

Thompson said there are nearly 500 CALEA standards that a department must address in the accreditation process.

“After that you start the self-assessment phase where your agency starts developing policies, procedures and processes to meet all the standards that you’re required to meet. After that, you have what’s called an ‘on-site assessment’ where a team of trained and specialized folks come into your agency and examine all of your paperwork and your books and your policies and procedures, they’ll do ride-alongs with the officers, have a public hearing where they’ll invite the public to come and talk to them. It’s a pretty big deal, takes a few days, then they write a report that goes to the commission,” Thompson said.

The 21-member commission will review the investigators’ report, and at a conference held three times a year, representatives from the agency undergo questioning before accreditation is granted.

Accreditation lasts for 36 months, and Thompson said the process of accreditation takes and renewal takes about 30 months, so the agency is almost constantly seeking to improve itself.