The Prestigious Status of Law Enforcement Accreditation
The Massachusetts Police Accreditation Program offers an accreditation process for police agencies across the Commonwealth. Like other accreditation programs, the process consists of two major components: (1) the establishment of a body of professional standards for police agencies to meet, and (2) a voluntary assessment process by which agencies can be publicly recognized for meeting those standards considered best practices for the profession.
Standards generally dictate which topical areas an agency must have policies and procedures on leaving the development and enforcement of agency-specific policies and procedures up to the agency’s CEO and supervisory staff. The vast majority of the Commission’s standards require agencies to commit their often unwritten policies and procedures to writing. The remaining standards are equipment or facility related generally found in communication centers, holding facilities and property/evidence rooms.
The program involves a thorough examination of the agency by the agency to determine compliance with program standards. That internal review or self-assessment that is initiated by the agency’s CEO is then followed by an external, peer review by Commission-appointed assessors. Assessors are typically Police Chiefs and Accreditation Managers who have been specially trained to conduct on-site assessments on behalf of the Commission.
Assessments for these awards are similar in purpose to line and staff inspections in that they both serve to monitor compliance with standards and provide a timely means for corrective action to be taken when necessary.
The Commission offers two professional credentialing programs: Certification and Accreditation.
Accreditation is the higher of the two program awards consisting of 382 standards: 257 are mandatory; 125 are optional. Mandatory standards that do not apply to the agency are waived. Only a percentage of the optional standards must be met; the percentage is based on agency size.
The Certification Program consists of 159 standards, all of which are mandatory. Since these 159 standards are part of the 257 mandatory standards for accreditation, certification is a significant milestone towards accreditation.
It is the policy of the Commission that agencies must successfully achieve certification before being assessed for accreditation.