Washington Police Chief Ken Hahn said it may be one to two weeks before the department gets the final word on whether or not it receives state accreditation through the Missouri Police Chiefs Association.
A three-man accreditation team from the association reviewed the city department’s policies, procedures and records for two days last week. On Friday, they reviewed their findings with department officials and pointed out changes that needed to be made.
“They said they were recommending that we be accredited,” Hahn said Monday. “Now they have to take their report back to the full accreditation board for a final decision.”
Hahn said Friday was very hectic as officers worked to provide detailed information to the accreditation team and respond to recommendations. But going through the process has been very rewarding, he added.
“This has made us a better department,” the police chief remarked.
Once final approval is given, representatives of the police chiefs association will attend a city council meeting to present the seal to the department and city, Hahn noted.
“It is a very big deal,” Hahn remarked.
Lt. Jim Armstrong, as the department’s certification manager, has spent the last two years working with other officers and staff preparing for the review by the accreditation team of all department policies, practices and standards.
Currently there are only six other departments in Missouri to be state accredited, Hahn said.
The process examines every aspect of the department to ensure it conforms to professional standards and guidelines and that officers are trained in those standards and that they follow them.
“It’s made us tighten up a lot of our procedures including record keeping and report writing,” Lt. Ed Menefee, assistant chief, said last week.
“It is a massive undertaking,” Menefee remarked.
“During the process we have fine-tuned some policies and procedures already in place and added some that are recommended,” Menefee said.
He said being accredited will help with insurance ratings and in court in instances involving lawsuits.
The accreditation team was shown all the types of vehicles and equipment the department has along with the types of uniforms worn by officers. They also were given a tour of the police station and its facilities.
The accreditation process through the Missouri Police Chiefs Association follows the same standards and guidelines as the national program through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, but at a much lower cost.
The cost to the city for the state accreditation process is about $10,000.
Hahn received approval from the city council more than two years ago to undertake the program.