On February 4, 2020, the Great Barrington Police Department received state re-accreditation from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission.
Accreditation is a self-initiated evaluation process by which police departments strive to meet and maintain standards that have been established for the profession, by the profession. These carefully selected standards reflect critical areas of police management, operations, and technical support activities. They cover areas such as policy development, emergency response planning, training, communications, property and evidence handling, use of force, vehicular pursuit, prisoner transportation and holding facilities. The program not only sets standards for the law enforcement profession, but also for the delivery of police services to citizens of the commonwealth.
“Achieving Accreditation from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission is a very significant accomplishment and a recognition highly regarded by the law enforcement community,” said Donna Taylor Mooers, the Commission’s Executive Director.”
Under the leadership of Chief Walsh, the Great Barrington Police Department was assessed in October by a team of Commission-appointed assessors. The Assessment Team found the Department to be in compliance with all applicable standards for Accreditation; 326 standards with 3 years of proof of compliance.
“Going through the process requires intense self-scrutiny, and ultimately provides a quality assurance review of the agency,” said Mooers.
The Commission offers two program awards: Certification and Accreditation, with Accreditation being the higher of the two. Accreditation has been granted for a period of three years. Participation in the program is strictly voluntary.
Great Barrington Selectboard offered congratulations to the Great Barrington Police Department on this “milestone achievement” at the Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday, February 24th.
COMPOSITION OF THE COMMISSION
The Commission consists of an eleven member Board of Directors. Six members are appointed by the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, one by the Massachusetts Municipal Association, and one by the Massachusetts Police Association. Three members are elected by the Board; all must have demonstrated expertise in law enforcement and public safety initiatives, and one must be affiliated with an academic institution. According to Mooers, “the Commission’s primary role is to establish and administer both the standards and the assessment process by which departments meeting accreditation standards can be publicly recognized for their achievements.”
Massachusetts is one of 28 states that offer an accreditation process for its police departments.
BENEFITS OF ACCREDITATION
The standards for accreditation impact officer and public safety, address high liability/risk management issues, and generally promote operational efficiency throughout the agency. The benefits are therefore many and will vary among participating departments based on the state of the department when it enters the process. In other words, the benefits will be better known when the department quantifies the changes that it made as a direct result of achieving accreditation. Generally, these changes involve policy writing, facility improvements and equipment purchases. Listed below are some of the more common benefits.
- provides a norm for an agency to judge its performance.
- provides a basis to correct deficiencies before they become public problems.
- requires agencies to commit policies and procedures to writing.
- promotes accountability among agency personnel and the evenhanded application of policies.
- provides a means of independent evaluation of agency operations.
- minimizes an agency’s exposure to liability, builds a stronger defense against lawsuits, and has the potential to reduce liability insurance costs.
- enhances the reputation of the agency and increases the public’s confidence in it.
Mooers added, “Police Certification and Accreditation serve to reassure the general public that the law enforcement profession is trained, prepared and ready to handle routine calls for service including large scale emergencies. Agency preparedness begins with having a current written directive system that incorporates best practices into agency policies and operational plans.”