Public Safety Communications Accreditation: Process
The CALEA Accreditation Process is a proven modern management model. Once implemented, it presents an agency's Chief Executive Officer (CEO), on a continuing basis, with a blueprint that promotes the efficient use of resources and improves service delivery—regardless of the size, geographic location, or functional responsibilities of the agency.
There are five phases in the accreditation process:
- On-site Assessment,
- Commission Review and Decision, and
- Maintaining Compliance and Reaccreditation.
Enrollment - Getting Started
The primary resource to explore accreditation and gather information is the CALEA website. It provides the opportunity to obtain a vast amount of information about CALEA's history, organization, and credentialing programs; search the client database for other agencies enrolled; or view/print fee schedules and other required enrollment documents. The website also contains an archive of CALEA periodicals, newsletters and a compilation of AccreditationWorks! articles, which describe the impact of accreditation from CALEA clients' perspective, plus links to other articles, research studies and resources.
Those interested in CALEA Accreditation may purchase the CALEA publications in electronic format. These publications are bundled for seamless access to each of the standards manuals for all programs, and also include the CALEA Process and Programs Guide. Collectively, these documents provide the foundation for agencies participating in any of the CALEA Accreditation Programs. Access to the electronic publications requires an annual subscription and the associated rates can be found on the CALEA website within the “Store” section. Short-term temporary access may be granted to agencies interested in reviewing the publications by contacting CALEA at 703-352-4225.
For agencies interested in finding out more about the Public Safety Communications Accreditation Program, here are some suggestions:
- Review the standards found in the publication, Standards for Public Safety Communications Agencies, and information in the instructional manual, the CALEA Process and Programs Guide; carefully review and compare the CALEA Standards to your existing written directives.
- Attend a CALEA Conference. There you will receive the training needed to begin the process and to successfully complete your accreditation goals; network with other public safety personnel and gain insight into the program; and consult with other CALEA accredited agencies.
- Attend and/or join the local Accreditation Coalition, if available, or the online support network, Public Safety Communications Accreditation Support Network (PSCASN). This is another resource for information and accreditation process training. Check on a PAC in your area.
- Contact CALEA with any questions.
When the agency is ready to enroll in the Public Safety Communications Accreditation Program, it completes the online Enrollment Packages, downloads the following three documents, and submits them to CALEA:
- Enrollment Form.
- Accreditation Agreement.
- Publications Subscription and Access Agreement.
The agency begins the phase called self-assessment with the return of the signed Agreement and the completed APQ. The APQ is an informal document permitting answers to be provided as conveniently as possible and the best estimate may be appropriate in some areas. The completed APQ contains agency-specific and general community information that permits the assigned CALEA Regional Program Manager to facilitate interaction with the agency’s accreditation manager and provide program related assistance.
Agencies in the Public Safety Communications Accreditation Program have 24 months from the date a CALEA representative signs the Accreditation Agreement to complete self-assessment and schedule an on-site assessment. The Agreements provide for extensions and related fees in the event an agency requires additional time beyond the Agreement limit.
The agency proceeds with self-assessment by complying with applicable standards, developing proofs of compliance, and preparing for the on-site assessment. During this time, the CALEA Regional Program Manager is available to provide guidance on the applicability of standards and attaining compliance.
Near the end of the self-assessment phase, the agency, in conjunction with the CALEA Assessment Manager, develops plans for accomplishing on-site assessment activities.
Once the agency has notified CALEA of its completion of the self-assessment phase and its desire to schedule an on-site assessment, the CALEA Assessment Manager schedules a date that is mutually agreeable and in compliance with the Agreement between the agency and CALEA.
Commission Review and Decision
The Commission’s Agency Review Committees conduct hearings, which are open for public attendance, regarding the agency’s compliance to applicable standards. Designated agency representatives are invited to participate in this review. If an agency is unable to participate, the CALEA Regional Program Manager presents the agency’s on-site report and other necessary information to the Review Committee.
At the CALEA Conference, the agency receives a letter conferring accredited status for three years. Later, one framed Certificate of Accreditation for display is sent, at no cost to the agency. The agency also receives certificates of appreciation for the CEO and accreditation manager. Additional certificates can be ordered, for a fee, from CALEA.
Maintaining Compliance and Reaccreditation
The agency must maintain compliance with applicable standards, keep its proofs of compliance up-to-date, and live by the letter and spirit of those standards. To retain its accreditation status, the agency is required to annually submit to CALEA the appropriate accreditation continuation fees and an Agency Status Report. The status report, due by its anniversary date each year, includes a summary of the agency’s accreditation maintenance experience for the preceding year and a declaration of continued compliance with applicable standards.
Once an agency has achieved two previous consecutive accreditation awards, it may apply for and be awarded CALEA Accreditation with Excellence by the Commission as an indication of superlative performance. See the Awards tab for a complete description of the Accreditation with Excellence award.