Hagerstown Police Department earns national reaccreditation

December 16, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

A stressful week of stringent assessments of the Hagerstown Police Department, attempting to gain national reaccreditation for the third time, has ended.

A three-man team of assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc. finished a review of the department Wednesday. The assessors, who did everything from riding in cars with patrol officers to raiding the files in search of errors in policies, were thorough and far from lenient, Hagerstown Police Department Chief Arthur Smith said Wednesday.

Smith said the assessors told officials that their report to the commission will suggest that reaccreditation be granted, though it will point out a number of areas requiring immediate improvement. Smith said most of those areas included updating paperwork to correspond with newer department policies.


Smith said the department likely will be meeting with the commission, which still must approve or deny the bid in April.

"At least we know what their recommendation is," Smith said. "We could do this for the next 100 years and not be perfect. I don't think it's possible (to be perfect) because they check so much stuff."

Smith said earning accreditation in 1994, and reaccreditation in 1999 and 2002, has been an honor to the department, though the recent process was "stressful" on nearly everyone involved, especially Accreditation Manager Mike Hoosier. Smith said Hoosier, a civilian employee, was key to the department's preparation for the process.

Assessor Ronald Underwood, of Charleston, S.C., said there are 565 accredited departments out of more than 17,000 that are eligible for the distinction internationally. Underwood said more than 400 standards were studied by the assessors between Saturday and Wednesday.

Assessors Peter Pastoor, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Price Robinson, of Midland, Texas, said the reaccreditation is often more difficult that gaining the original accreditation for departments.

"If you're worth your salt, you're expected to maintain your standard," Robinson said. "It's not something your department can buy."

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