The Cobb County Police Department is proud to be nationally accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). Below is information pertaining to the history of accreditation, the standards and the process.
History of Accreditation
The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) was formed in 1979, by the IACP, NOBLE, NSA, and PERF, to establish a body of standards designed to:
- Increase law enforcement agency capabilities to prevent and control crime;
- Increase agency effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of law enforcement services;
- Increase cooperation and coordination with other law enforcement agencies and with other agencies of the criminal justice system; and
- Increase citizen and employee confidence in the goals, objectives, policies, and practices of the agency.
In addition, the Commission was formed to develop an accreditation process that provides law enforcement agencies an opportunity to voluntarily demonstrate that they meet an established set of professional standards. The final draft standards were approved on May 1, 1982. The standards have changed many times since then.
The Accreditation Standards
The Standards Manual contains several hundred standards, organized into many different chapters, or topic areas. In the Commission’s view, the standards reflect the best professional requirements and practices for a law enforcement agency. The standards’ requirements provide a description of “what” must be accomplished by the applicant agency but allows that agency wide latitude in determining “how” it will achieve its compliance with each applicable standard. This approach allows independence and is the key to understanding the universal nature and flexibility of the standards approved by the Commission. The Standards Manual is amended at regular intervals - new standards added, old ones revised or deleted, chapter introduction and glossary items changed, etc. Since initial approval, the standards have undergone many interpretations, adjustments, and amendments. Each standard is composed of three parts: the standard statement, the commentary, and the levels of compliance.
- The standard statement is a declarative sentence that places a clear – cut requirement, or multiple requirements, on an agency.
- The commentary supports the standard statement but is not binding.
- The levels of compliance indicate whether a given standard is mandatory (M), other-than-mandatory (O), or not applicable due to size (N/A). The fourth letter at the end of each standard refers to Cobb County’s level of compliance (M M M M).
The Accreditation Process
There are five general phases or steps in the accreditation process:
- APPLICATION: The accreditation process begins when an agency applies to the Commission for applicant status. Entry into the program is voluntary, and the application form requires the signature of the agency’s chief executive officer. The Cobb County Police Department signed an application with CALEA in August 2001.
- SELF-ASSESSMENT: Agency self-assessment involves a thorough examination by the agency to determine whether it complies with all applicable standards. The agency creates policy and prepares “proofs of compliance” for applicable standards.
- ON-SITE ASSESSMENT: The Commission selects and trains a team of assessors free of conflict with the candidate agency, and schedules an on-site review of the agency. During the on-site visit, the assessors, acting as representatives of the Commission, review all standards and, in particular, verify the agency’s compliance with all applicable standards. The assessors submit a formal, written report of their on-site activities and findings. The first on-site assessment of the Cobb County Police Department occurred in January 2005.
- COMMISSION REVIEW: The Commission reviews the final report and receives testimony from agency personnel, assessors, staff, or others. If satisfied that the agency has met all compliance requirements, the Commission awards the agency accredited status. We were awarded [initial] accredited status by the Commission in March 2005 at the Birmingham (Spring) Conference.
- MAINTAINING COMPLIANCE AND REACCREDITATION: Accreditation is for a three-year period. To maintain accredited status, the accredited agency must remain in compliance with all applicable standards. At the conclusion of the three-year period, the Commission offers the agency an opportunity to repeat the process and continue accredited status into the future. The Department regularly revises policy and gathers documents to prove our continued compliance with the standards.