NORTHAMPTON TOWNSHIP >>The Northampton Township Police Department has earned accreditation from the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission (PLEAC), an achievement realized by just 10 percent of the state’s 1,200 police departments.
Horsham Township Police Chief William Daly, a member of the accreditation commission, joined Northampton Police Chief Michael Clark in making the announcement at the July 24 Northampton Township Board of Supervisors meeting.
“This is not a rubber stamp,” said Daly of accreditation. “It took a lot of hard work by the men and women of your police department,” he told the supervisors. “This accreditation should be received with a lot of pride.”
Accreditation, said Daly, is a progressive and time-proven way of helping institutions evaluate and improve their overall performance. The cornerstone of the strategy, he said, lies in the promulgation of standards containing a clear statement of professional objectives.
According to Daly, the process of earning accreditation involves complex work by agency personnel over a period of approximately two years, creating, modifying and implementing policies and procedures.
To earn accreditation, the department underwent an extensive evaluation that included a thorough review of its physical facility and an examination of proofs of compliance with 135 standards, or best practices.
As part of the process, Daly said the commission interviewed officers and staff and conducted a review of organizational documents, including records, reports and certifications.
It’s not any easy process, said Daly, with only about 137 departments out of the Commonwealths 1200 police departments earning accreditation.
In fact, Daly said some departments that achieve accreditation find it hard to maintain it because the standards are set so high.
“Accreditation is about best practices,” said Daly. “If you think about it, you wouldn’t go to a hospital that wasn’t accredited. You wouldn’t go to a college or university unless it met some standards. So the thought was why don’t we do the same for police departments.”
In 2002 the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission awarded accreditation to its first four police departments. A year later Daly successfully led the effort to secure accreditation for the Horsham department.
“It is a tremendous amount of work, but it does set fairly good parameters on the way law enforcement should work in Pennsylvania,” he said.
“And if departments practice these best practices and incorporate them everyday in their policing, your department should be more effective for the community and it should deliver better services to your community, both your residential citizens and your business community.
“It’s also going to help you with training your officers and it will help you with liability issues when it comes to lawsuits,” decreasing some liability insurance expenditures, said Daly. “Accredited police departments generally find themselves in court a lot less” with a reduced risk and exposure to lawsuits, he said.
Accreditation also establishes a credible framework for evaluating agency practices and procedures; improves law enforcement – community relations; increases employee input, interaction and confidence in the agency; broadens the outlook and viewpoints of managers, officers and employees; and identifies and highlights the capabilities and competence of the agency.
It also furnishes a solid foundation for the agency to build upon for further progress; provides reliable methods to improve essential management procedures; extends agency accountability to the public and elected officials; enhances planning and innovative activities by all agency personnel; develops improved methods for providing services to the community; and encourages problem-solving activities within the agency.
Accreditation, added Daly, would not have been possible without the support of the township’s administration and board of supervisors, which allowed a team of certified assessors to “dig into” the police department as part of the process.
“They looked at every nook and cranny, they read every police report, they did ride-alongs and inspected your facility,” said Daly. “A lot of people are very fearful of that and they don’t want to allow the process to happen. You took that risk. You took that challenge. You allowed these assessors to go over the department with a fine tooth comb.
“And I will tell you Northampton’s report was one of the best ones I have ever read,” said Daly. “You have a lot to be proud of with your Chief, your accreditation manager and yourself. This wouldn’t be possible if not for you and for the residents,” Daly told the supervisors. “No police department can stand alone. The police are the community and the community are the police. That’s never been more true than in 2019.”
Chief Clark beamed with pride as he joined the department’s accreditation manager Detective Joe Rosowski and supervisors Barry Moore (Chairman) and Adam Selisker in accepting a framed copy of the accreditation from Daly.
“It was a big venture,” said Clark. “The process took us approximately two years to do. It was a team effort and the man leading that effort was Detective Joe Rosowski. All the accolades for this go to Joe for the outstanding work and I can guarantee you that we will keep this in three years.”
“Great job Joe,” added Supervisor and Northampton Fire Chief Adam Selisker. “In my business we do a lot of certifications and accreditations and I know what it takes to do that and you need three things - leadership, good policies and procedures and experience in the department.
“The leadership is clear. That’s you and your team,” Selisker continued. “Joe, great job on the policies and procedures and the fact that you guys stick to them is important. That came out of the audit clearly. And the experience and depth in your department - you have a great department. I’m proud of you. We’re all proud of you,” he said. “And it’s clear why we continue to invest in your department.”
The Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association developed the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Program in July 2001. Since then, more than 300 agencies have enrolled and 137 agencies currently have attained accredited status.