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CALEA Update Magazine | Issue 108

Creating a Police Quality Management System — How the Surprise Police Department Combines CALEA Accreditation and ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management Principles

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As indicated by CALEA, the purpose of its Accreditation Programs is “to improve the delivery of public safety services, primarily by: maintaining a body of standards, developed by public safety practitioners, covering a wide range of up-to-date public safety initiatives; establishing and administering an accreditation process; and recognizing professional excellence.”  To complement its compliance with CALEA’s body of internationally accepted standards and to enhance its organizational performance, the Surprise, Arizona Police Department (SPD) is also innovatively applying international business management standards. Through this complementary relationship, the SPD has added considerable value to its CALEA accreditation process, streamlined the compliance/maintenance processes, enabled and encouraged the development of relevant performance metrics beyond traditional law enforcement measurements, and effectively responded to recent economic challenges. 

In November 2007, the SPD became a CALEA-accredited law enforcement agency. Since that time, the SPD has effectively utilized its accreditation to help shape the organization into one that effectively demonstrates its commitment to professionalism through conformance to, and maintenance of, higher quality standards of police performance. While the CALEA standards and the associated accreditation process have provided the SPD with its foundation for excellence by shaping its policies and procedures, the members of the SPD are striving to build upon that foundation to ultimately achieve world class status in its quest to effectively and efficiently provide safety and security services to each member of the community. This effective balance between compliance and performance continues to elevate SPD service to the community.

To accomplish this objective, the SPD has adopted the principles of the ISO 9001:2008 international quality standard to guide its departmental management methods. Similar efforts carried out by the police departments of Houston and Phoenix have resulted in the savings of millions of dollars and countless hours, elimination of non-valued activities, creation of value-added activities, and the development of a management model (attached) for other police agencies specifically and government agencies in general.  Moreover, police performance improvements through implementation of quality management methods significantly enhance the probability of CALEA compliance.

The business standard that has been the foundation for this transition is the ISO quality management system standard that is characterized by management requirements that can be effectively applied in business organizations, public agencies, regulatory agencies, or government departments. The components within each standard refer to what the organization does to ensure that customer requirements are determined and regularly met and the organization’s compliance with industry accreditation, regulatory, and statutory requirements is maintained. It provides a model to follow that international management experts believe is the current international state of the art (See SPD QMS Model Attached). It is that management model that ensures that compliance with the CALEA standards is regularly achieved and maintained through inclusion and/or reference in departmental work processes and that performance related to that compliance is continually improving.

The operating principle of ISO’s management system standard is the Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle (PDCA). Effectively using the basic PDCA Cycle, departments will enhance the control of its products/services to regularly meet customer, regulatory, statutory, and organizational performance requirements.

  • Plan—Examine the department’s environment/situation and develop objectives and the processes required to meet customer requirements, maintain compliance, and accomplish objectives.  
  • Do—Implement processes.  
  • Check—Monitor and measure the department’s products, services, and processes against objectives and requirements and report results.  
  • Act—Take the actions necessary to ensure continual improvement.

                         Figure 1. Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle

 Although the PDCA Cycle primarily focuses on the process approach, the ISO management system standard promotes an organization as a complete system of interconnected processes. For a department to function effectively and efficiently, its members must identify customer requirements and define the processes that will meet those requirements, manage the connectivity and alignment among the processes, utilize available resources to produce products and services, measure performance, act upon findings and review acts for effectiveness. How effectively the organization connects the processes to ultimately meet customer requirements, as well as other stakeholder requirements, is what elevates one organization over others.

While efficiency and effectiveness are clearly positive inputs to bottom-line performance, credibility, expertise, trust, goodwill, ethics, and values go a long way toward world-class police performance. That combination and the inclusion of the CALEA body of standards will enable the department to effectively align its performance objectives with compliance, thus creating multiple value-added results.

The ISO 9001:2008 international business standard contains the components that have been identified as critical to success. The standard, of course, does not guarantee success nor does it imply uniformity in structure and documentation. It merely identifies the ingredients that have been used to cultivate a department culture characterized by performance excellence and continual improvement.  Management and performance teams are expected to create additional components and shape these ingredients to fit their work units. It is the responsibility of the people within the department to regularly work with their internal and external customers and suppliers to effectively use the ingredients to ultimately develop an organization-specific quality management system comprised of interconnected business processes that regularly produce law enforcement products and services that meet all customer needs.

When patrol officers arrest a subject in accordance with department policy, state statutes, and/or city ordinances, care must be taken to ensure solid connection is maintained with supporting work units, including, but not limited to, records, identification, crime lab, investigations, property management, and prosecutorial processes. Oftentimes the output of one process is the input of another process. The ISO 9001:2008 standard identifies the framework required to effectively manage the input-output connectivity of the organization’s system of processes. The combination of solid process connectivity and compliance with best practice CALEA standards promotes performance excellence throughout the department.

Quality Management Principles

While not specifically contained within the ISO 9001:2008 standard, the ISO Quality Management Principles are the basis for the standard. As defined by the ISO Technical Committee responsible for the development of the 2008 standard, a quality management principle is “a comprehensive and fundamental rule or belief, for leading and operating an organization, aimed at continually improving performance over the long term by focusing on customers while addressing the needs of all other interested parties” (Hoyle, 2006). These principles may be used by senior management to guide the organization toward continual improvement through compliance to both CALEA and ISO standards. 


                                    Figure 2. ISO Quality Management Principles

Customer Focus—“Organizations depend on their customers and therefore should understand current and future customer needs, should meet customer requirements and strive to exceed customer expectations.”  (, 2011)

  • Benefits—Organizations focusing on their customers will likely increase operational effectiveness and efficiency and the enhancement of trust, credibility, and reputation.

Leadership—“Leaders establish unity of purpose and direction of the organization. They should create and maintain the internal environment in which people can become fully involved in achieving the organization's objectives.” (, 2011)

  • Benefits—Effective leaders applying this principle will elevate information consistency, promote alignment and understanding of departmental processes and objectives, communicate the value of CALEA and ISO standards, and reduce probability for miscommunication.

Involvement of People—“People at all levels are the essence of an organization and their full involvement enables their abilities to be used for the organization's benefit.” (, 2011)

  • Benefits—Employee involvement typically results in an organization comprised of motivated people eager to contribute, people who are willing participate in ensuring CALEA and ISO compliance, people who are willing to be held accountable for the development of individual and organizational objectives and performance to those objectives, and people who are willing to participate in change and continual improvement.

Process Approach—“A desired result is achieved more efficiently when activities and related resources are managed as a process.” (, 2011)

  • Benefits—Effectively developing and managing required, effective, and efficient processes in compliance with CALEA standards will reduce redundancy, eliminate waste, reduce cost through control and elimination of corrective action needs, establish predictability of results, promote efficiency through effective use of limited resources, and prioritize opportunities for improvement.

System Approach to Management—“Identifying, understanding and managing interrelated processes as a system contributes to the organization's effectiveness and efficiency in achieving its objectives.” (, 2011)

  • Benefits—The organization performs through a unified approach of all parties. The system approach reduces individual agendas and inequitable allocation of resources and promotes consistency in objective development. The organization becomes more efficient, effective, and a better place to work.

Continual Improvement—“Continual improvement of the organization's overall performance should be a permanent objective of the organization.”  (, 2011)

  • Benefits— All members of the organization should continually examine performance and look for better ways of doing business and strengthening alignment. Similarly, the organization should regularly examine its products and services to ensure that they still meet customer needs, are technologically current or advanced, are in compliance with CALEA standards, and are in alignment with current regulatory and statutory requirements. Applying the continual improvement principle throughout the organization coordinates improvement efforts across work-unit boundaries, encourages rapid response to improvement opportunities, and results in enhanced performance improvement techniques through regular training and use.

Factual Approach to Decision-Making—“Effective decisions are based on the analysis of data and information.”  (, 2011)

  • Benefits— Organizations can only improve what is being measured. Decision making is supported with objective information rather than subjective reactions. Balancing factual information with experience, knowledge, and opinions assists in selecting the best of competing ideas and virtually eliminates the “favoritism” claims that negatively impact the organizational environment.

Mutually Beneficial Supplier Relationships—“An organization and its suppliers are interdependent and a mutually beneficial relationship enhances the ability of both to create value.” (, 2011)

  • Benefits—Similar to the organization’s reliance on customers to enable it to continue operating as a vital public safety entity, the organization must also have a solid relationship with its suppliers. The organization must ensure that the suppliers understand the organization’s needs as they relate to ultimately providing services to its customers.  Additionally, an effective relationship with the supplier will encourage the supplier to share product/service improvement opportunities. All parties will work together to respond to external stimuli where both benefit, resulting in optimization of available resources.


As an organization begins to examine different ways of conducting business, it is important that its members understand basic information associated with various techniques. In addition to identifying and complying with CALEA Law Enforcement Standards, appreciating the background, description, applications, and benefits of an ISO quality management system will increase the likelihood of departmental success. The purpose of this article was to introduce enough information to raise awareness of the value of compliance to the CALEA body of standards and adhering to international management standards to improve the overall effectiveness of the organization. For approximately five years, the Surprise Police Department has complied with the standards of CALEA and is innovatively combining that compliance with the utilization of the management principles of the International Organization for Standardization. While improved performance has been achieved as a result of this connection, there remains much to learn and much more to do.

Hoyle, David (2006). ISO 9000 Quality System Handbook. London:  Butterworth-Heinemann.
International Organization for Standardization (2011). Quality Management Principles


David M. Amari
Senior Financial Analyst and Quality Manager
Surprise (AZ) Police Department
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