LPD receives ‘good report’ from assessors
By Melanie Ruberti
The LaGrange Police Department is an internationally accredited organization through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies or CALEA.
It is one of the highest honors bestowed on a police department, and LPD is preparing to receive its certification for the seventh time.
CALEA assessors went through hundreds of LaGrange police files and visited the department in early April. The group interviewed LPD staff and folks who interact with the agency on a regular basis.
Assessors also took comments from the community.
It was the evaluators’ job to make sure the police department was living up to standards, policies and procedures set forth by CALEA commissioners. Those practices had to be documented on paper and by LaGrange police officers’ actions within the community.
Sgt. Karen Sanders is the accreditation manager for the LaGrange Police Department.
“Karen is the department’s ‘quarterback,’” Dekmar said. “She makes sure we’re up to code; that everything we do is memorialized in our reports.”
CALEA will now be reviewing those documents electronically on a yearly basis to make sure LPD stays on the right track.
The department’s accreditation status is good for four years.
Sanders is already working toward LPD’s next CALEA assessment in 2021.
“It’s a never ending process,” she said. “But I like the way they’re (CALEA) doing it now. Now the assessors look at our files offsite, so when they get here, they can focus on talking to investigators and people we deal with in the community.”
After their visit, the assessors generated a report of their findings. They mailed one copy to Dekmar and the other packet to CALEA commissioners.
“They (assessors) recognized the strength of the community and the support for our police department,” Dekmar said. “They noticed our community outreach efforts which were reflected in the many partnerships we have throughout the city, such as in our faith community, civic groups and neighborhood resources. They (assessors) recognized the leadership role the police department has played in addressing in particular social issues as it relates to homelessness, mental illness and delinquency.”
Assessors also pointed out areas where LPD could improve.
“We met their standards but recommended we enhance our abilities as it relates to crime analysis,” Dekmar said. “The recommendations are one of the benefits of having folks come in from different parts of the country.”
Few law enforcement agencies across the country achieve the global distinction, Dekmar said.
The process to obtain accreditation from CALEA is purely voluntary. According to the Bureau of Justice, there are close to 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States.
Less than 1,000 of those departments are accredited, Dekmar said.
The CALEA distinction is an honor both LaGrange police officers and the community can be proud of.
“The polices, standards and practices we have in place will reduce their (residents) likelihood of becoming a victim,” Dekmar said. “We have standards that address those who may be victim of a crime, plus case management accountability so if a suspect is developed we can ensure proper documentation and collection of evidence.”
Dekmar and Sanders will travel to Providence, Rhode Island in July to receive their official CALEA certification from the board of commissioners.
Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She can be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.