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5/15/2013 12:01:00 AM
Harbor Springs Police Department invites comment for accreditation process
Jessica Evans
News Manager

Accreditation is often thought of in reference to schools and hospitals, but not as much in terms of law enforcement agencies. Accreditation for law enforcement agencies is currently optional, but three years ago, Harbor Springs Police Department chief Dan Branson decided to have his agency participate in a federal accreditation program that measures police departments against professional and national standards.

Part of the program requires the police department to undergo an on-site assessment in order to maintain accreditation status, which is reviewed every three years. An assessor will be present on June from 9 through June 11 to evaluate and determine if the Harbor Springs Police Department is in compliance with national policies, said Branson.

"This is a voluntary program," Branson said. "I think it's a good thing to do as this program is made up of national standards and gives us a basis of credibility in terms of our policies and procedures."

Administered by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), the program originated in 1979 out of a need for a comprehensive, national program that would set standards for accountability, integrity, liability and overall performance for all police agencies.

As part of the assessment, community members are invited to offer comments in regard to the effectiveness and ability of the Harbor Springs Police Department.

Comments will be taken into consideration by the CALEA assessor, Chief R. Steven Bailey on June 10, 2013 by phone at 231-526-2522 between 3-5 p.m. Comments can also be submitted by mail and sent to the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, 13575 Heathecote Boulevard, Suite 320, Gainesville, Virginia or online at www.calea.org.

"We're encouraging everyone to do this," Branson said. "The public is welcome to voice their opinions, and this is just another way to get some perspective on how we're doing."

The police department does not receive federal funding or compensation for participating in this program. Contributed funds are used to pay for the program. No general tax funds are used, Branson said.

"Essentially for me, these standards give our department something to fall back on," Branson explained. "This program supports the fact that we have a good policy in place and this is a good way to operate."

For more information about the CALEA accreditation program, go to http://www.calea.org or for more questions regarding the upcoming site assessment, call 231-526-6211.

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