“Accredited Law Enforcement Agency”
The Emmaus Police Department has achieved a distinguished milestone in its history. For the first time, it has become an “Accredited Law Enforcement Agency.” Never before has the department shown that it is in the top three percent of the more than 1200 law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania. The dedication and hard work of all department personnel enabled the department to achieve this status. The narrative below will provide background on accreditation and the efforts put forth by the department in its quest to be recognized as one of the most professional departments in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association developed 124 standards that have to be met any law enforcement agency within the Commonwealth if the agency desires to become accredited. These standards were designed to help law enforcement agencies reduce liability risk and exposure to lawsuits. The standards are met by having specific policies/procedures in place and showing that these policies/procedures are followed. There are three steps in the accreditation process: application, self assessment and formal assessment. In the application phase, an agency with support from the elected and appointed officials, makes the decision to begin the accreditation process. In the self assessment phase, the agency’s accreditation manager examines the agency’s current policies to see if they comply with the standards. The formal assessment phase is an assessment by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association. Trained assessors do a two-day on-site review of the agency files to ensure compliance with all of the applicable standards. Upon successful completion, the agency receives accredited status. This status is valid for three years at which time the agency must again complete the self-assessment and the formal assessment phases. The department will be scheduled for an on-site assessment in spring 2009 to maintain its accredited status.
The Emmaus Police Department began the accreditation process in July 2002. During the self assessment phase it was found that 104 new policies had to be developed. Each of these new policies required research and development prior to implementation. The review also identified the need for new policies that were not required by the standards. Additionally, 2 policies were found to be in conflict with each other. The appropriate changes were made eliminating officer confusion and greatly reducing officer and department liability. The research, development and formatting of the new and revised policies comprised the majority of the work. The department’s policy manual had to be revised and reformatted with the addition of the new policies. New forms were developed which streamlined several departmental processes and provided checklists for all personnel to use, to assist them in complying with department policies. After the policy manuals were disseminated, comprehensive training was conducted for all department personnel. This training included the new/revised policies and forms, using the policy manual, and use of department equipment. From 2003 to 2005, the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission added additional standards. For each standard that was applicable to the department, a new policy and training on that policy had to be developed and implemented.
On May 13, 2006, the Emmaus Police Department became only the 37th police department in Pennsylvania to achieve accreditation status through the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association. This was a red letter day in the history of the Emmaus Police Department. Attaining and receiving the “Accredited” Law Enforcement Agency” status places the department among the elite of professional law enforcement agencies throughout Pennsylvania.
At the May 15th 2006 meeting of Emmaus Borough Council, the department was presented with its accreditation certificate. The certificate was presented by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association accreditation coordinator, Richard Hammond. In his remarks, he explained that hospitals and universities become accredited by meeting professional standards and that people send relatives to an accredited hospital and children to accredited university. He said that by becoming accredited, the Emmaus Police Department meets professional standards and has been placed in the “top echelon of police departments across the Commonwealth.” The certificate was presented to Chief of Police David Faust and the department’s accreditation manager, Sergeant Karl Geschwindt. In attendance were members of the police department as well as the following dignitaries: Pennsylvania State Representative Douglas Reichley, Lehigh Count President Judge William Platt, Lehigh County First Assistant District Attorney Maria Dantos, Magisterial District Judge Donna Butler, Gregg Bortz Press Secretary for United States Congressman Charles Dent. The presentation was covered by both television and print media.
In summary, the department’s accreditation will enhance its ability to continue “Serving Emmaus with Pride and Respect.”
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