April 12, 2018
St. Charles County, Missouri – The St. Charles County Police Department spent three years assessing and evaluating its policies and procedures. It was an extremely time-consuming, yet rewarding task, because as a result, the department has been named the eighth law enforcement agency in the St. Louis area, and the 13th in the state, to currently hold Advanced Accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, (CALEA®). And that’s great news for the entire county.
“There are 657 law enforcement agencies in Missouri,” says St. Charles County Police Chief David Todd. “To be one of only a handful in our state to have earned advanced accreditation from an organization that sets the gold standard for law enforcement is a remarkable honor. Being accredited by CALEA standards means we are held accountable to the public, and to ourselves. We have to follow all of our policies and procedures to the letter and uphold the standards that make us one of the best.”
CALEA is a credentialing authority established through the joint efforts of law enforcement’s major executive associations: International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP); National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE); National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). Its voluntary, yet arduous, accreditation process is internationally recognized as the gold standard in public safety. The Tier II, or Advanced Accreditation, by CALEA includes 484 possible standards. A team of assessors from CALEA spent four days on site evaluating every aspect of the department.
“We learned how good we already were at some things, and how we could, and can, improve upon others,” Chief Todd says. “Overall, the CALEA assessors and commissioner were extremely impressed with our department’s operations.”
Because of the rigorous accreditation process, areas of change in the department include:
- COMMUNICATION OF POLICIES AND PROCEDURES: An attorney from the St. Charles County Counselor’s Office spent a year reviewing policies and procedures and many were either revised or issued new to meet CALEA standards. The documents then were evaluated by the officers who use them, and appropriate changes were made. All proposed policies and procedures were reviewed at the executive level of County Government before they were put into place.
One such modification involves how officers are made aware of changes in policies and mandatory training. By utilizing the software PowerDMS, officers now can access information on their desktop or mobile device. Prior, binders filled with policy documents were in the department for officer review.
Tracking is an important feature of this new software. When a policy is changed or a new one added, each officer receives an email. The officer logs on to review, and the software tracks who has done so. When supervisors log on to PowerDMS, they can readily see who within their command is non-compliant with the review process. Mandatory training has a similar process.
- RECRUITMENT/DIVERSITY: The St. Charles County Police Department now has an officer assigned to recruitment. This officer attends job fairs, goes to college campuses, hands out literature about the SCCPD, and focuses on making contacts for future recruits. “We don’t have much turnover,” Chief Todd says, “but when we do, we want to make certain we have the best people interested in working for us.”
St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann is proud of the work the Police Department completed to achieve the CALEA accreditation. “The final report from CALEA recognizes the department for sound leadership and adherence to standards,” County Executive Ehlmann says. “We had a perfect report. There were no issues that needed to be rectified, either while the assessors were on site, or afterward. I commend Chief Todd for making certain the St. Charles County Police Department is ‘the best of the best’ and thank every officer and staff member for giving their best to our county.”
The process of maintaining accreditation is ongoing. Police departments are assessed annually with an electronic off-site review and every four years on site to make certain they are meeting CALEA’s high standards. Chief Todd, however, feels there is always room for improvement, even if you do meet the highest standards. He says he will continue working on recruiting and diversity within the department, community relationships and building a new report management system.
“Thanks to all the men and women in the St. Charles County Police Department, we are providing exceptional policing in the community,” says Chief Todd. “Safety, security and quality service are our top priorities.”