CONYERS -- The Conyers Police Department is taking a comprehensive look at its policies, procedures, facilities, equipment and personnel as part of its bid to attain accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, which is considered the gold standard for law enforcement professionals.
As part of the accreditation process the CPD recently commissioned an overall study of the department by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police to identify any areas that might be pitfalls in the CALEA accreditation process. The CPD regained its GACP certification in May after two years without that designation.
The GACP study identified some areas that the department has already or will soon address and some areas that the department will be able to address in the future as funds become available.
CPD Major Scott Freeman said the GACP study was designed to give the department a broad view of its operations.
"We asked them to do the study and focus on the areas that would provide a third-party perspective, an unbiased perspective, on operations within the department," Freeman said.
Some recommendations from the GACP study were short-term fixes, Freeman said, including some changes in procedures and policies and installing security cameras in the CPD parking lot. Others will not be so easily addressed and will be examined from a feasibility standpoint, Freeman said.
For instance, the GACP recommended the addition of 11 patrol officers. In a tight budget year, Freeman said that won't be feasible. Likewise with the recommendation for additional parking and fencing at CPD headquarters.
Two significant challenges addressed in the GACP assessment are more space for the department to operate and a plan for replacement of the department's communications equipment.
"Some of the major concerns are, obviously, the building and the space in which we work," Freeman said. "The other would be our radio system -- the age and the recommended replacement and upgrade of that. Those are two of the major concerns that came out of (the study)."
Despite the challenges, Freeman said the department is upbeat about the CALEA accreditation process. The department has already undergone its first mock CALEA assessment in which CALEA assessors were onsite, delving into files, policies and procedures. From that assessment the CPD will receive a worksheet identifying areas that need to be addressed.
A second mock assessment will he conducted in June, followed by the formal assessment in August. A decision on the department's CALEA accreditation will be announced in November.
Freeman said the initial mock assessment turned up no major roadblocks for accreditation and was "much better than expected."
"We've really worked hard," said Freeman. "We've made a lot of changes with our policies. We looked at regaining state certification as a stepping stone to CALEA accreditation. Gaining CALEA accreditation will be a major accomplishment for our department."
According to the CALEA website, CALEA accreditation is designed to provide police departments with a proven management system of written standards, training, clearly defined lines of authority and routine reports to guide operations. Accreditation has been credited with reducing risk and liability exposure for departments, providing strong defense in civil suits, and improving support from government officials.