By Ed Pruneau
Missourian Managing Editor
By the end of the day Friday, Washington police learned whether or not the department is the latest municipal agency to receive state accreditation through the Missouri Police Chiefs Association.
Lt. Jim Armstrong, as the department’s certification manager, has spent the last two years working with other officers and staff to prepare for a review by three accreditation officials of all department policies, practices and standards. The officials were in Washington Thursday and Friday.
Capt. Ed Menefee, assistant chief, said the accreditation team would sit down with police officials at the end of the day Friday and go over their findings. That’s when the department will learn the team’s decision.
If approved, the Washington department will join about 10 other municipal agencies around Missouri to win the accreditation seal. Sullivan is the only other municipal agency in this area to be accredited under the program started about three years ago.
Menefee said the “arduous, yet rewarding” 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.
“This made us look at every aspect of the department practices and confirm that we have procedures in place,” Menefee said. “It’s made us tighten up a lot of our procedures including record keeping and report writing.
“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.
“This is considered a big thing in the law enforcement community,” Menefee said. “It shows we are a professional department.”
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.
Police Chief Hahn received approval from the city council more than two years ago to undertake the program.