Four Founding Associations
In 1979, the Commission was created through the combined efforts of four major law enforcement organizations: the International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, National Sheriff’s Association, and Police Executive Research Forum. These organizations continue to serve in an advisory capacity to the Commission and are responsible for appointing members of the Commission’s Board.
Purpose of the Commission
The Commission was formed for two reasons: to develop a set of law enforcement standards and to establish and administer an accreditation process through which law enforcement agencies could demonstrate voluntarily that they meet professionally-recognized criteria for excellence in management and service-delivery.
Organization of the Board and Staff
The 21-member Commission is composed of 11 law enforcement professionals and 10 representatives of the public and private sectors. Commissioners serve three year, staggered terms. The Commission meets three times a year to accredit and reaccredit agencies and provide guidance for Commission operations.
The Commission’s staff manages the accreditation process from application through accreditation and later reaccreditation. Under the leadership of an Executive Director, the staff provides guidance to agencies in the accreditation system; conducts training for accreditation managers, chief executives, and assessors; serves as a liaison between law enforcement agencies and the Commission; and handles business operations, including contracts, finances, publications, and marketing.
Private, non-profit status
The Commission is a private, non-profit corporation. It is not part of, or obligated to, any governmental unit. Fees paid by law enforcement agencies defray the Commission’s major operating costs. The Commission’s authority is derived solely from the voluntary participation of law enforcement agencies in the accreditation program.
Determining agency eligibility
Law enforcement agencies that participate in the accreditation process are:
- Legally constituted governmental entities with a mandated responsibility to enforce laws and whose personnel have general or special law enforcement powers
- Other law enforcement entities, such as private agencies with mandated police powers, whose eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis by the Commission.
Maintaining accredited status
The period of accreditation is three years. During this time, the agency must submit annual reports that document continuing compliance with applicable standards. Reaccreditation occurs at the end of the three years, pending another successful on-site assessment and hearing before the Commission.
The benefits of being an accredited agency:
- Controlled liability insurance costs: Accredited status makes it easier for agencies to purchase police liability insurance; allows agencies to increase the limit of their insurance coverage more easily; and in many cases, results in lower premiums.
- Stronger defense against lawsuits and citizen complaints: Accredited agencies are better able to defend themselves against lawsuits and citizen complaints. Many agencies report a decline in legal actions against them once they become accredited.
- Greater accountability within the agency: Accreditation standards give the Chief Executive Officer a proven management system of written directives, sound training, clearly defined lines of authority, and routine reports that support decision making and resource allocation.
- Support from government officials: Accreditation provides objective evidence of an agency’s commitment to excellence in leadership, resource management, and service delivery. Thus, government officials are more confident in the agency’s ability to operate efficiently and meet community needs.
- Increased community advocacy: Accreditation embodies the precepts of community oriented policing. It creates a forum in which police and citizens work together to prevent and control crime. This partnership helps citizens understand the challenges confronting law enforcement and gives law enforcement clear direction about community expectations.
- Recognition for excellence: Accreditation is a coveted award that symbolizes professionalism, excellence, and competence. It requires written directives and training to inform employees about policies and practices; facilities and equipment to ensure employees’ safety; and processes to safeguard employees’ rights. The community and police department can take pride in their department, knowing it represents the very best in law enforcement.
The standards address six major law enforcement subjects:
- Role, responsibilities, and relationships with other agencies
- Organization, management, and administration
- Personnel administration
- Law enforcement operations, operational support, and traffic law enforcement
- Prisoner and court-related services
- Auxiliary and technical services
The standards help law enforcement agencies:
- Strengthen crime prevention and control capabilities
- Formalize essential management procedures
- Establish fair and nondiscriminatory personnel practices
- Improve service delivery
- Solidify interagency cooperation and coordination
- Boost citizen and staff confidence in the agency
Agencies that seek accreditation are required to comply only with those standards that are specifically applicable to them. Applicability is based on two factors: an agency’s size and the functions it performs. Applicable standards are categorized as mandatory or other-than-mandatory. Agencies must comply with all applicable mandatory standards and 80% of applicable other-than-mandatory standards. If an agency cannot comply with a standard because of legislation, labor agreements, court orders, or case law, waivers can be sought from the Commission.
"What" -- not "How"
Seeking to establish the best professional practices, the standards prescribe "what" agencies should be doing, but not "how" they should be doing it. That decision is left up to the individual agency and its Chief Executive Officer.
In July 1993, the Commission created a function certification program to encourage participation in the total accreditation program. Through the certification process, agencies comply with a series of standards that address one of four functions: Training, Communications, Internal Affairs, or Court Security. The Commission may certify each applicable function upon demonstrated proof of compliance.
Xenia Police Division has been accredited since July 31, 1993.