Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does it cost to participate in the Program?
To participate in the program, agencies pay an annual membership fee to the Commission. The fee is based on agency-size and on the number of full-time police officers in the agency, only. As indicated in the table below, there are four agency-size categories. Subsequent fees to continue in the program are invoiced annually (July 1– June 30).
|Number of Full-time Police Officers||FY2019’s Annual Fee*|
*July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019
For agencies entering the program mid-year, there is a pro-rated fee per month. For those insured by the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association (MIIA), it may be helpful to know that MIIA Members are eligible to participate in a reimbursement program. For more information on this, please contact MIIA’s Loss Control Department: 617-426-7272.
Q: Who is eligible to participate?
Entities having mandated responsibilities to enforce laws and having personnel with general or special law enforcement powers are eligible to participate in the Program. These entities include municipal, state and specialized law enforcement agencies (e.g. campus, transit and housing).
Q: How will participating in the Program benefit us?
The benefits of police certification and accreditation are many and are likely to vary among participating agencies based on the state of the agency when it enters the process. In other words, the benefits will be better known when the agency quantifies the “changes” that it made in agency operations as a direct result of participating in this process to comply with program standards. Generally, these changes involve policy updates, minor facility improvements, and in some cases, equipment upgrades. Participating in professional credentialing programs such as police certification and accreditation are also effective risk management tools for preventing and reducing loss in professional liability claims.
Q: Aside from applying, what do we do next to begin the process?
All applicants must appoint an Accreditation Manager. This position is responsible for managing the agency’s accreditation process and is the agency’s primary liaison with the Commission on all matters concerning accreditation. A sample job description is available identifying the Accreditation Manager’s major duties and responsibilities. A suggested Checklist for Getting Started is also available and as you will see, one of the initial start-up tasks on the list is contacting the Commission for a schedule of upcoming training for Accreditation Managers and other agency members who will be involved in the process.
Q: How long does the process usually take?
The answer to this question is unique to each agency. Once enrolled in the program, agencies will initiate a comprehensive self-assessment of their agency. In other words, a thorough examination of the agency, by the agency. Without a doubt, it is the most labor intensive and time-consuming phase of the process because the activities in this phase initially begin with a review of the certification standards and include all of the activities associated with preparing compliance documentation for the agency’s on-site assessment by Commission-appointed assessors.
It is important to note that the role of the Accreditation Manager is not to do all of the work but to manage and delegate it for the initial on-site assessment and subsequent assessments. Achieving certification and accreditation should be an agency-wide effort utilizing the expertise of agency personnel in policy development and/or in reviewing proposed drafts, particularly those that will affect them. Departments using a team approach to this project will generally have the best and quickest results.
Q: Are there any time limits?
No, there are no time limits for achieving initial certification. However, once certification or accreditation have been achieved, agencies will need to be re-assessed every three years in order to maintain their certification or accreditation status.
Q: What is the difference between Certification and Accreditation?
In terms of the number of standards, Accreditation has approximately double the number of standards than Certification.
Certification requires that you meet 159 standards all of which are mandatory. These carefully selected standards impact officer and public safety, address high liability/risk management issues, and generally promote operational efficiency throughout an agency.
Accreditation requires an additional 98 mandatory standards to be met as well as a percentage of 125 optional standards; the percentage being based on agency-size. So for example, an agency that decides to pursue accreditation that has fifty (50) or fewer full-time police officers would be required to meet 326 standards: 257 mandatory standards (159 + 98) plus 69 optional standards (55%) based on its size.
Since the 159 standards for certification are part of the 257 mandatory standards for accreditation, certification is a significant milestone towards accreditation.
Q: Once certified, do we have to get accredited?
Pursuing accreditation is an agency decision so no, you don’t have to get accredited. Certification awards are granted for three-year periods so you would be assessed for re-certification to maintain your status.
Q: Do you have to be certified before being assessed for accreditation?
Yes. Agencies must successfully achieve certification before being assessed for accreditation.
Q: What do the standards focus on?
Generally, standards focus on high liability, high risk areas of law enforcement operations:
- Agency Authority, Jurisdiction and Use of Force
- Selection and Promotion of Personnel, Training, Discipline and Internal Affairs
- Patrol, Traffic Operations, Criminal Investigations, Victim/Witness Assistance, Detainee Transportation, Holding Facilities, and Emergency Response Planning
- Records and Communications
- Collection and Preservation of Evidence, Property and Evidence Control
Q: What if a standard doesn’t apply to our agency?
Any standard that is not a function or responsibility of the agency will be deemed not applicable and will be waived through a formal waiver process.
Q: Is there any training available?
Yes. The Commission offers introductory workshops throughout the year such as Program Orientation and Getting Started (described below) and there is no cost to attend. The Commission also hosts three-day conferences during which introductory training and presentations on current issues affecting law enforcement are offered. For upcoming workshops, please go to What’s New on the Commission’s website www.masspoliceaccred.net. In the meantime, here are the workshop descriptions for the Program Orientation and Getting Started Workshops….
Program Orientation: Police Certification and Accreditation – This workshop is designed for those who are new to the process or who have been in the process and need refresher training. It is NOT a sales pitch, but an overview of the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Program detailing what agencies need to know and do in order to get their department certified (and maybe accredited later). Attendees will hear about the nature and scope of the on-site assessment; the standards for certification including those impacting police facilities, equipment and personnel; the cost to participate; the workload involved; and finally what support services are available from the Commission.
Getting Started – Your department has decided that certification is a worthy goal and wants to be certified; now what? This workshop provides direction on how and where to begin the process, focusing on start-up tasks, written directive systems and policy writing. The first part of the workshop focuses on a Checklist and Guide for Getting Started. The second half focuses on standards dealing with written directive systems because they are the foundation for complying with accreditation standards. Particular attention will be given to: types of directives; formatting directives; methods for disseminating them; systems to acknowledge when directives have been read; and finally, how to keep them updated.
Q: Where can I get additional information?