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CALEA Update Magazine | Issue 100

The Impact of CALEA Accreditation – the Ohio State Highway Patrol Experience

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The Ohio State Highway Patrol is very proud to have been awarded its sixth Law Enforcement Accreditation Award in addition to achieving Flagship Agency status for the second consecutive time. Just as when the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OHSP) initially sought accreditation 20 years ago, the pursuit of professional excellence remains a top priority. As any agency that earns initial accreditation learns, hopefully before its first reaccreditation, maintaining accredited status is a continuing process that does not stop after the awards banquet is over and the photos have been taken. Instead it becomes an integral part of the agency’s everyday operations, just as it has at OSHP. Our motto, “Excellence in Service,” is synonymous with CALEA Standards. 

Streamlining the Process

In 1989 when OSHP was initially accredited, there were over 900 standards in the law enforcement program. At that time numerous uniformed and civilian staff members were assembled to begin the self-assessment process. Since then, CALEA has made innumerable modifications to improve the process, and today’s program is dramatically streamlined. Now OSHP complies with approximately 446 of the 463 Law Enforcement Standards. Maintaining compliance with these professional standards has proven to be an excellent foundation on which to build a more efficient and effective agency.  

Within OSHP, this process has also been significantly streamlined, primarily in two ways. First, the management of the accreditation process is just one of the administrative tasks now handled by two professional staff members on an on-going basis, and second, the Standards Matrix Report was developed in order to incorporate more field personnel involvement. This comprehensive report summarizes each applicable CALEA Standard and related bullet(s) and also identifies acceptable proofs of compliance for the particular standard for each year a proof is needed. By providing a detailed list of compliance documents needed as well as multiple suggestions for potential proofs, component staff can easily comply with the request for information. 

Immediately following an on-site assessment, work begins to collect proofs of compliance for the next reaccreditation cycle. Due to the size of our agency (2,500 full-time personnel), no field location is providing more than three proofs of compliance per year. It has become a process embraced by all staffing levels in day-to-day routines.  

Additionally, each of the three follow-up year’s documentation is provided during the initial follow-up so a component can identify proofs of compliance as an incident occurs or as time permits. For example, it is often difficult to find an investigation where a body cavity search was preformed. However, having the request in advance puts the unit “on notice” and triggers the component to retain that information and forward immediately upon occurrence and simply mark it off their list. The collection of proofs of compliance continues to become more streamlined and routine as our personnel have gotten more involved in understanding the process. CALEA greatly helped the streamlining of the collection process with the addition in 2005 of Appendix G, File Construction and Documentation to the standards manual, which established guidelines for all agencies as to what were acceptable proofs to meet the standards. 

Compliance with Standards Produces Results

Twenty years of being in compliance with CALEA Standards has produced numerous, categorical results for the OSHP as well. For example, with the formation of collective bargaining in the late 1980s, the OSHP was said to have had more grievances and arbitrations than any other state agency. One direct result is that the standards were initially instrumental in building the foundation to establish a positive relationship between labor and management. As begun in our initial self-assessment review process, the OSHP conducts an annual review and analysis of grievances filed by all bargaining unit employees. This process helps the OSHP ensure that management is acting in concert with the collective bargaining agreement(s), an aspect favorably looked upon by our members. By reviewing the number or the type of grievances that are filed, labor is able to determine if there is a particular issue that needs to be addressed, whether it is a training issue or simply a policy clarification. Additionally, these reviews have been crucial when preparing for upcoming collective bargaining negotiations.  

Another result of compliance is that CALEA Standards ensure policies and procedures are periodically reviewed and are consistent with current legislation and technology. During an early on-site assessment it was brought to our attention that our agency had many fragmented policies. For instance, a use of force incident might require a supervisor completing the administrative documentation to review numerous policies, depending on the incident’s unique circumstances. Or a motor vehicle pursuit that resulted in the suspect fleeing on foot and ended with the use of a firearm required the investigating supervisor to consult up to five policies to ensure proper documentation, routing, points of contact, follow-up, etc. By following the recommendations of the on-site assessment team, all policies underwent a thorough review in an effort to “connect the dots.”  This led to consolidation of hundreds of our policies, resulting in more concisely written policies where information could be more efficiently located, reducing supervisor review time.    

A third example lies within the review and inspection area. Just as the OSHP places a great emphasis on our field units to be in compliance with numerous areas during the annual staff and line inspection process, likewise, the CALEA On-site Assessment provides a comparable inspection process for General Headquarters. For example, the standards require continuous evaluation of our internal resources that push data out to the field to better allocate our personnel. On numerous occasions, these reviews of various resources have shown us our short-comings and have forced us to take action to improve our internal mechanisms. Once during the annual Crime Analysis Review, inconsistencies in the data being inputted were discovered. This triggered a further review and resulted in the adoption of suggestions for improving both data input and reviews by personnel and the collection repository. Additionally, these types of reviews assist our agency in determining a shift of personnel needs based on recent crime trends or crash occurrences. The continuous evaluation of this information assists the OSHP in reducing both crime and crash frequencies within the state. 

Finally, CALEA Standards that require a review, evaluation, or analysis be conducted results in finding value in what is being reported and determining if there are greater needs to be addressed. These activities are necessary for an agency’s success, growth, and preparedness for the future. The results for the OSHP include reducing administrative costs, improving use of resources, increasing efficiency, and ultimately providing better services.  

The Impact of Accreditation

As described by CALEA, the accreditation program provides law enforcement agencies an opportunity to voluntarily demonstrate that they meet an established set of professional standards. Echoing the published results of CALEA Law Enforcement Accreditation, the following lists the impact of accreditation the OSHP: 

  • CALEA Accreditation requires an agency to develop a comprehensive, well thought out, uniform set of written directives.  

These directives are imperative to maintaining uniformity and structure across our diverse agency, covering Ohio’s 88 counties.  

  • CALEA Accreditation provides the necessary reports and analyses a CEO needs to make fact-based, informed management decisions.  

These reports and analyses assist OSHP in countless areas such as personnel and resource allocations, crime and crash trends, training issues, or equipment needs. These reports have often been useful in obtaining grant funding and resources from outside agencies in support of crime and crash reduction efforts for the safety benefit of those traveling Ohio’s roadways. 

  • CALEA Accreditation requires a preparedness program be put in place, so an agency is ready to address natural or man-made critical incidents.  

Without standards particular to critical incident training or the collection of materials for response agencies, management of an ongoing critical incident can become ineffective or even inefficient.  Critical incident standards, along with NIMS requirements, required our agency to take a close look at outside agency contact and response information, maps, shelters, communications policies, etc. Additionally the requirement to participate in table-top exercises with response agencies assists with acknowledging other agencies’ response procedures and protocols in addition to sharing information on the OSHP’s role. 

An unfavorable outcome resulting from problematic critical incident management can affect future citizen support of a response agency for many years following an incident. In contrast, through after action analysis of the emergency services response to Hurricane Katrina, accredited agencies that responded often credited CALEA standards for standardizing their response to assist with the casualties, rescues, first responder activities, and command issues.  

  • CALEA Accreditation is a means for developing or improving upon an agency’s relations with the community.  

Standards covering community relations activities demonstrate to an agency of our demographics and size that we must be involved with those we serve.  Standards in this area allow us to ensure participation with local community groups, which leads to greater support from the citizens of Ohio and in turn, increases our awareness of citizens’ concerns.  

  • CALEA Accreditation strengthens an agency’s accountability, both within the agency and the community, through a continuum of standards that clearly define authority, performance and responsibilities.  

Again, the standardization of agency practices is imperative for both stability and uniformity within the agency. Through agency directives all personnel of the OSHP have clearly defined directives covering agency authority, performance and responsibilities.  Without this accountability agency employees would lack direction and continuity.  

  • CALEA Accreditation can limit an agency’s liability and risk exposure because it demonstrates that internationally recognized standards for law enforcement have been met, as verified by a team of independent, outside CALEA trained assessors.  

The assessment from outside assessors is an excellent measure of an agency’s true performance in areas that may be overlooked by an internal agency inspection process. By sheer participation in the CALEA Process, our agency is willing to be critically reviewed and is open to the criticisms of the assessment team in an effort to ensure we are incorporating the best practices within the law enforcement industry. Through the accreditation process our liability and risk exposure are significantly reduced in comparison with agencies who simply maintain an internal review process. 

  • CALEA Accreditation facilitates an agency’s pursuit of professional excellence.  

The OSHP’s voluntary participation in the CALEA Process publicizes the agency’s goal to achieve professional excellence in all areas of our administration and operations.  

Accreditation has provided the Ohio State Highway Patrol with resources and guidance necessary to continue serving Ohio citizens at the highest level. The OSHP is proud to be recognized as being a member of a select group of law enforcement agencies which is setting the standard for others through the achievement of international accreditation by CALEA. 

Ms. Kathy Mahl
Accreditation Manager
Ohio State Highway Patrol
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