Charlestown Police Department, in a strenuous process, earns accreditation

Charlestown Police Department, in a strenuous process, earns accreditation

The Westerly Sun

CHARLESTOWN — An extensive three-year effort to gain accreditation has come to fruition for the Charlestown Police Department.

The department was awarded accreditation earlier this year based on an assessment by the Rhode Island Police Accreditation Commission. The achievement was formally recognized July 10 with a proclamation ceremony before the Charlestown Town Council.

Police Chief Jeffrey Allen and Christine Crocker, executive director of the accreditation commission, said that although completion of the detailed evaluation process was worth celebrating, it’s just the first step to assuring that police in the community are able to maintain up-to-date standards and policies in response to community needs.

“We want the public to know and have confidence that we are adhering to best practices and are operating at the highest level we possibly can when it comes to meeting state and national police standards,” Allen said. “When we interact with the public on a day-to-day basis, this process has helped assure that we have proper policies and procedures in place for everything we do.”

The accreditation system in Rhode Island was developed in 2012, officials said, and was built as an alternative to the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc. The agency provided important standards for policing, but its services were not affordable for many state law enforcement agencies.

The state accreditation process uses many of the requirements set forth by the national commission. The assessment in Charlestown included a review of 203 specific policing standards, said Crocker, a former captain with the Cumberland Police Department. She added that the process is inherently in-depth — Charlestown, for example, did not have any delays in the process that began in 2014 and was completed only recently — but necessary to maintain proper protocols.

“To bring it into perspective, would you send your child to a college that is not accredited and spend thousands of dollars? Would you schedule a surgery and put your health in the hands of a hospital that is not accredited? Then why would you not want police, who serve as the gatekeepers of our community, to be held to a standard of accreditation?” Crocker said at the council meeting.

Allen said his department would not have been able to earn accreditation if not for hard work and dedication from every member of his department. He credited his staff, sworn officers and citizen employees alike, for their energy in making sure that all standards were met.

He also credited Lt. Michael Paliotta, who worked as the department’s accreditation manager, and accreditation assistant Lynn Matthews, a former records employee with the New Britain, Conn., Police Department, who was hired to assist in the work, which involved training and the implementation of necessary changes.

Allen said his department will have regular reviews and will maintain all necessary materials to show assessors that it is committed to meeting all standards and providing the best service possible. “We will not rest on our laurels just because we received accreditation,” Allen said.

“It is an ongoing process. We will continue to evaluate our policies, evolve and grow as a department to meet the changing needs of our community.”


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