The purpose of law enforcement agency accreditation is to professionalize the law enforcement industry by providing a review process for agencies to be certified as operating under industry best practices and standards. In 1976 the Association was directed by the Washington State Legislature to develop standards and goals for Washington State Law Enforcement. The Association has maintained an operational accreditation program since that time.
The current accreditation program was created in 2007 and is overseen by the Professional Services Committee, Accreditation Commission, and Board of Directors. The Committee is responsible for maintaining accreditation standards. The Commission is responsible for reviewing accreditation on-site reports and making recommendations to the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is responsible for conferring accreditation.
Benefits of Accreditation Include:
The Accreditation process occurs in eight phases: Interest and Contract; File Maintenance; Self-Assessment; On-Site Assessment and Evaluation; Accreditation Commission Review; Executive Board Review; Award; and Re-Accreditation.
In the interest and contract phase, agencies work with the Association's Director of Professional Services to develop guidelines for the accreditation process, sign a contract, and submit payment. The contract establishes a one year timeline for the agency to schedule an onsite assessment. There are two types of fees associated with the WASPC Accreditation program, application fees and on-site costs. The application fee for all agencies is $100. On-site assessment fees are related to the accreditation inspection process once assessors arrive at an agency and are invoiced after the on-site assessment and vary by department and availability of assessors. Agencies seeking Accreditation agree to pay the travel costs associated with bringing in assessors from around the state and the WASPC employees staff time needed to facilitate agency accreditation. Every effort is made to utilize assessors that are regionally close to the requesting agency to help minimize these costs.
In the self-assessment phase, agencies assess their ability to meet all WASPC Accreditation standards addressing major law enforcement areas as established by the Association's Accreditation Committee. Major areas include emphasis on:
During the file maintenance and self-assessment phases, agencies gather proof of their ability to meet the standards and proof of the agency's institutionalization of the standards.
During the on-site assessment and evaluation phase, the on-site assessment team, a group of volunteer assessors from law enforcement agencies across Washington State, confirms the agency's ability to meet the WASPC accreditation standards. The assessors review agency files for policies and procedures as well as documentation (proofs) showing the agency is operating under the direction of those policies and procedures. Assessors also interview agency members to gather additional information. As part of the WASPC on-site process, assessors are encouraged to note areas where improvement can be made.
Suggestions for improvement are compiled in the final on-site report. If an agency is unable to meet an accreditation standard at the time of the on-site assessment, a 60 day extension may be requested for the agency to make appropriate changes and submit proof to the WASPC Director of Professional Services. Non-compliance issues must be reconciled to the satisfaction of the Director of Professional Services before the agency's presentation to the Accreditation Commission. An agency must resolve non-compliance or 'wet ink' issues at least 30 days prior to the Commission meeting at which the Commission considers the agency's accreditation.
In the Accreditation Commission review phase, the WASPC Director of Professional Services or the on-site review team leader, the chief administrator of the agency seeking accreditation, and the departmental accreditation manager may appear before the Accreditation Commission for determination if they have met the standards and that the on-site review team has done a complete job. The Accreditation Commission forwards its recommendations to the WASPC Board of Directors for final consideration.
In the Executive Board review phase, the WASPC Executive Board reviews the recommendations by the Accreditation Commission and issues a final decision.
In the award phase of the accreditation process, the agency is presented with a plaque, for successfully achieving the professional standards as outlined in the Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs Law Enforcement Accreditation Program. Presentation of accreditation plaques occurs at the Association's semi-annual training conferences. The Association also acknowledges CALEA accredited agencies as having met the necessary standards and awards recognition to those agencies.
During the reaccreditation phase, agencies repeat the entire process. The reaccreditation process is significantly less cumbersome if agencies institutionalize the accreditation philosophy and keep agency policies, procedures and records up to date. To maintain accreditation, agencies must be reaccredited every four years.
Additional Program Information:
There is currently no accreditation training scheduled.
Mike Painter, Director of Professional Services
(360) 292-7959 (direct)
*The WASPC Accreditation Program was not created to conflict or compete with the CALEA Program.