Pr. William police department, training academy seek re-accreditation

Outside assessors are examining the Prince William County Police Department this month, as the agency and its Criminal Justice Training Academy seek re-accreditation.

County police will host a team of assessors from the Gainesville-based Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies at the county’s training academy in Nokesville from Sunday through Wednesday, according to a news release. The department as a whole will be assessed Aug. 12 to 15 for re-accreditation, which takes place every three years.

Prince William’s police department as a whole has been accredited since 1987 and is something that retiring Police Chief Charlie T. Deane has stressed.

“You don’t know what’s being done or not being done unless you measure it,” said Craig Hartley, the deputy director of CALEA, a national accreditation agency.

First Sgt. Drew Hunter, the police department’s accreditation manager, said the department is generally ahead of the curve when it comes to accreditation — a way of ensuring that the agency’s standards and procedures are in line and up to date with national procedures.

Case in point: When CALEA issued a rule change requiring police departments to have a policy for when officers should wear bulletproof vest, Prince William’s policy was already in place. (Recently, it was changed to require that any officer in the field must wear the vest at all times.)

CALEA standards ensure that Deane and the top officials are constantly reviewing staffing issues — which units need more manpower, for example, or areas of the county that need more of a police presence, Hunter said.

The nearly 500 checkpoints also ensure that if anyone alleges police misconduct, the department can state its established policies before a judge or jury, Hunter said. “That allows us to better state our case,” he said.

Bart Connelly, the deputy chief of police in Cape Coral, Fla., is leading the review of the training academy. Wayne Isbell, the chief of police in Mount Pleasant, Tex., will join him, according to Hartley. Conducting the review of the department will be Mary Ann Viverette, the former police chief in Gaithersburg, and James Carmody, chief of police in Wyoming, Mich. CALEA brings in outside assessors for a “disinterested, third-party perspective,” Hartley said. “They bring all the credentials . . . but have no connection to the agency itself.”

The public is invited to weigh in: Assessors can be reached at 703-792-4416 on Monday from 2 to 4 p.m., and written comments can be sent to Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), 13575 Heathcote Blvd., Suite 320, Gainesville, Va., 20155. Comments can also be sent via e-mail to calea@calea.org.

Jeremy Borden covers Prince William County, Va., for The Washington Post.
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