Accreditation

Proposed changes to WASPC Accreditation standards for law enforcement operations that will be advanced for approval at the May 2018 semi-annual conference.  First reading occurred at the 2017 Fall Professional Service Committee meeting.   Once approved changes are effective 7/1/2018.

15.10 -The agency has a policy that addresses referral of subjects  to a mental health agency after receiving a report of threatened or attempted suicide

Purpose: To comply with RCW 71.05.457.

15.11 - The agency has policy(s) covering eyewitness identification including the presentation of photo arrays and physical lineups.

15.12 – The agency has policy and provides training on the service of protection orders, Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), and orders to surrender weapons. Policy directs personnel to attempt service within 24 hours of receipt of order whenever practicable.

17.22 -The agency has policy complying with RCWs 7.94 and 9.41 regarding the acceptance, storage, and release of firearms surrendered to the Department.

Purpose: Surrendered firearms are only returned if they are not required to be held, are not prohibited from being released, (6) and are only released to persons who are eligible to possess them. (2)  If a firearm cannot be released, the agency provides written notice to the requestor specifying the reason(s) the firearm cannot be released within five business days of receiving the request. (8) Surrendered firearms that are unclaimed are disposed of in accordance with agency procedures. (4)

17.23 -The agency has policy complying with RCWs 7.94 and 9.41 for notification of family or household members when firearms held pursuant to a court order are released.

Purpose: All surrendered firearms must be held in police custody at least twenty-four hours before they are released. (7) Family or household members may use an incident or case number to request notification when a firearm is to be returned. (5)  The agency provides notice, when requested, within one business day of verifying the firearm(s) and respondent in question have met the requirements for release (3) and then the firearm(s) are held in the agency’s custody for at least seventy-two hours after notification has been provided. (9)


 

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:
  • To increase public confidence in the agency
  • To increase credibility
  • To provide a systemized agency self-assessment
  • To broaden perspectives
  • To intensify administrative and operational effectiveness
  • To ensure recruitment, selection, and promotion processes are fair and equitable
  • To strengthen understanding of agency policies and procedures by agency personnel
  • To improve agency morale and pride
  • To decrease susceptibility to litigation and costly civil court settlements
  • To potentially reduce liability insurance costs
  • To provide state and local recognition of professional competence
The Accreditation Process
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:
  • Goals and Objectives
  • Role and Authority
  • Use of Force
  • Management, Staffing, Organization and Utilization of Personnel
  • Records Management
  • Information Technology
  • Unusual Occurrences
  • Health and Safety
  • Fiscal Management
  • Recruitment and Selection
  • Training
  • Performance Evaluation
  • Code of Conduct
  • Internal Affairs
  • Patrol Function
  • Investigative Function
  • Evidence and Property Control Function
  • Prisoner Security
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 Resources: 
Professional Services Survey Results - December 2017
Accreditation Training

An accreditation manager/assessor training opportunity will be held on Thursday, April 26 from 0900-1400 at the Kent Police Fire Training center. The training is intended for agencies that are either considering WASPC Accreditation or have an upcoming Accreditation onsite. We will be covering the role of the accreditation manager and conducting a review of the law enforcement operations accreditation standards during this training event.

Future training opportunities will be available later in 2018. If there is interest in conducting a training event for interested jail managers/commanders, contact Mike Painter.

Click here to register online for the Thursday, April 29th Accreditation Training being held at the Kent PD Training Center, 24523 116th Ave SE, Kent, WA 98030.

Contact Information: 
Mike Painter, Director of Professional Services
(360) 292-7959 (direct)
mpainter@waspc.org
*The WASPC Accreditation Program was not created to conflict or compete with the CALEA Program.