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CALEA Update Magazine | Issue 108

Increase CALEA Buy-in with an Internal Mock Assessment

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Ask any experienced CEO or Accreditation Manager what is the most difficult facet of becoming CALEA accredited and maintaining that status, and a high percentage of answers will include some form of getting the “buy-in” from the rank and file. This step is critical because CALEA accreditation is not just a job for the CEO and/or Accreditation Manager. Successful accreditation and reaccreditation requires an adjustment to the organizational mindset that will invariably affect the work habits of all employees. This will mean more work for some and changes in work for others, both of which may negatively affect employee morale, at least in the short-term. While no agency can possibly eliminate all negative ideologies within its four walls, the sharing of information about the CALEA process with the rank and file will at least eliminate the perceived mystery of the accreditation process. Shedding additional light on the mystery might even encourage both the informal and formal leaders within the agency to promote the buy-in.

CALEA recognized the need for information about the accreditation process within all levels of an agency and addressed it with a single, bulleted standard. Law Enforcement Standard 33.5.3 requires that new employees be educated on the accreditation process upon hire (bullet a), during self-assessment for initial accreditation (bullet b), and prior to an on-site assessment (bullet c). (CALEA’s other accreditation programs have a similarly worded standard: Public Safety Communications Standard 5.2.9; Public Safety Training Academy Standard 4.7.4; and Campus Security Standard 18.5.3.) The Goose Creek Police Department presents a comprehensive training program to address bullets a and c; however, after four on-site assessments, we recognized that our supervisors were not receiving enough information through this training to materially impact our agency’s ability to demonstrate proof of compliance with CALEA Standards.

To take supervisory training on the accreditation process to the next level, we decided to offer a career development opportunity to all of our mid-level supervisors (lieutenants). Approximately six months before our third reaccreditation on-site, the Chief of Police approved the concept of an internal mock assessment to be conducted by lieutenants and civilian supervisors of similar pay grades prior to our regular, external mock assessment. The opportunity would be in the form of an invitation-only, non-mandatory, one-day training class held at our agency. The class would involve both instruction and practical exercise in the form of reviewing agency files and completing a critique sheet on each of the files.

The class was well attended with six of eight lieutenants and one of two civilian supervisory equivalents attending. The first two hours consisted of comprehensive instruction supported by CALEA manuals, ISSRs, copies of actual proof documents, and the prompts of a 77 slide PowerPoint presentation. After the instruction, personnel were assigned to proof folders that were not related to their current area of assignment. Critique forms were provided to be completed on each file they reviewed. By the end of the day, all files had been reviewed and critiqued.

Personnel were then asked to submit a candid, anonymous critique of the training. The critiques overwhelmingly praised the training and there were several requests that the training be conducted annually. On an even greater positive note, we also learned a lot from the proof file critique sheets. There were numerous instances wherein personnel noted the availability of proof documents that better demonstrated our adherence to particular standards and a number of file shortcomings were identified that resulted in changes to written directives.

Subsequently, our external mock assessment was seamless, and our August 2011 reaccreditation on-site resulted in no Applied Discretion and no File Maintenance issues identified by the seasoned assessment team sent by CALEA. Our agency was reaccredited at the Colorado Springs conference in December 2011, and distinguished as “Reaccredited with Excellence.” While we recognize that our decade plus of experience has steadily improved our ability to generate proof documentation and develop strong proof files, we believe that our most recent on-site success was largely attributable to the internal mock assessment process and a high percentage of buy-in by our staff. We intend to conduct an internal mock assessment again in 2014 prior to our external mock assessment.

About the author:
Captain John Grainger is an 18 year veteran of the Goose Creek (SC) Police Department. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in management, a Master of Business Administration degree, and is a graduate of the 242nd Session of the FBI National Academy. Captain Grainger has been the Accreditation Manager for the Goose Creek Police Department since 2006 and was appointed as a CALEA Assessor in December 2008.

Captain John Grainger
Goose Creek, South Carolina Police Department
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