standing Westerly Police Department Cruiser

WESTERLY — It has involved a nearly 10-year process to dot all 'i’s" and cross all "t’s," but the Westerly Police Department is nearing completion of a rigorous review to earn full accreditation from the Rhode Island Police Accreditation Commission.

First a team of assessors from RIPAC want to hear what town residents think about the agency’s ability to comply with industry standards set forth by the commission.

The Westerly Police Department will host the commission’s assessment team on Friday for an examination of the agency’s policies and procedures, management, operations and support services. The examination is part of the final stages of a considerably detailed process led by Lt. Ailton Medina, who worked alongside staff with the commission to establish written protocols and training that met all criteria set forth by RIPAC.

“(Accreditation) is voluntary, but it serves as an important sort of insurance policy for both the department and public,” Police Chief Paul Gingerella explained in a phone conversation Tuesday. “If anything happens and we do not have proper policies in place, we could be held liable. This assures that doesn’t happen.”

As part of the on-site assessment this week, employees and the public are encouraged to offer comments by phone, with calls and conversations being held between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., according to a Westerly Police Department press release.

For the department, the accreditation process has been years in the making. Gingerella said that at one point, while serving as a lieutenant, he had been assigned to aid with the project and preparations.

The work proved extensive, however, and the department was unable to free an officer for the nearly full-time role that the accreditation process required.

“There is a lot of work involved to get everything in order. With the needs of the community, I could not justify sacrificing a position just for clerical and administrative work,” he explained.

Gingerella said the town was able to acquire a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, which provided funding for such a role and Medina was assigned to the project.

Christine Crocker, the commission’s executive director, has said that accreditation is the first step to assuring that police maintain up-to-date standards and policies in response to community needs.

The accreditation system in Rhode Island was developed in 2012 as an alternative to the more expensive services of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc., an independent authority based in Virginia. The state commission uses many of the standards set forth by CALEA.

Charlestown earned accreditation in 2017 and Hopkinton police earned accreditation in 2018. Accreditation is for three years, during which time department’s are required to submit annual reports in order to maintain their status. A review is conducted at the end of each three-year period for re-accreditation.

A copy of review standards is available at the Westerly Police Department. Those wishing to submit comments may do so by calling 401-348-6118 Friday between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Telephone comments will be limited to 10 minutes.

Those interested in submitting written comments may do so by emailing Christine Crocker at

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