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Hagerstown police volunteering to undergo scrutiny for rating

January 02, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Hagerstown City Police will soon find out how their department measures up to standards for law enforcement agencies across the country.

City police this month will undergo a weeklong, voluntary examination of the department's policies, procedures, management and support services to be re-accreditated by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies in Fairfax, Va.

Hagerstown's department was first accredited in 1994, for a five-year period. The process has since been changed to three years.

The police department must comply with more than 375 criteria to be re-certified

Police Chief Dale J. Jones said receiving the certification means the department will save money on its liability insurance, but that is not the primary reason for going through the process.

"Most importantly, these are accepted standards that show that we are operating in a professional manner as a police department," he said.

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Jones said the re-accreditation process may be even tougher than the initial inspections because the commission will pay close attention to whether the department has remained in compliance.

An assessment team consisting of police officials from across the country will arrive in Hagerstown on Jan. 23.

The assessors will review written materials, interview individuals and visit officials, offices and other places where compliance can be seen.

The team will stay until Jan. 27 and will report its findings to the commission. The commission will submit the information to an accreditation commission which will conduct hearings and make a final decision in March 1999.

The department will receive a preliminary report shortly after the inspection.

Jones said he will attend the hearings in Denver, Colo. The police department will be notified about whether they have passed, passed with certain conditions imposed, or failed.

Departments that fail have the option of reapplying the following year.

Jones said that of the more than 15,000 police departments in the U.S., fewer than 500 have been accredited, although some states have a similar certification of their own.

As part of the on-site assessment, employees and the public may comment during an information session on Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. at Hagerstown City Council chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 1 E. Franklin St.,

Comments also can be made by calling 301-739-8577 extension 261, on Jan. 26 between 1 and 5 p.m.

Those wishing to write may address their concerns to Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., 10306 Eaton Place, Suite 320, Fairfax, Va. 22030-2201.

A copy of the standards is available for review by appointment at the Hagerstown police department.

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