Accreditation

Accreditation Overview

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 updated in 2007 and is continually updated as needed. The program is overseen by the WASPC Professional Services Committee, Accreditation Commission, and Board of Directors. The membership wanted the program to reflect the highest professional standards of policing yet be financially accessible to any member agency that desired to earn it. The main differences between previous WASPC accreditation programs and the current program are:

  1. All standards are "have-to practices" as determined by law or a universal practice within the profession;
  2. The number of standards is less than 150 but all are mandatory for every agency; and,
  3. The dominant verification method by the on-site assessors includes the examination of written documents, observations and interviews with the agency employees. Assessors review agency files for policies and procedures as well as documentation showing the agency is operating under the direction of those policies and procedures. Assessors will also interview agency members to gather additional information.

The Accreditation Committee is responsible for maintaining accreditation standards, directing assigned WASPC staff and oversight of the program. The Accreditation Commission is responsible for reviewing accreditation on-site reports and making recommendations to the Board of Directors on whether an agency should receive WASPC Accreditation. 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 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.

Overview of 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. 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 and is submitted, along with a signed contract, following the agency successfully completing a mock assessment. 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 located close to the requesting agency to help minimize these costs.

Once a contract is signed with WASPC by agencies seeking initial accreditation they will have one year to complete their onsite assessment. Agencies are strongly encouraged to work closely with their mentor and the Director of Professional Services to ensure proper timing of the accreditation contract. Agencies not being able to successfully complete their onsite within one year must re-apply, submit the $100 application fee and will be subject to any changes to the WASPC accreditation standards in effect at the time of re-application.

All current WASPC accredited agencies are subject to re-accreditation every four years. Agencies will be notified of their upcoming re-accreditation by the Director of Professional Services in the fall prior to the re-accreditation year. Agencies will have from January 1 to October 1 of the re-accrediting year to successfully complete a re-accreditation onsite. Agencies are strongly discouraged from waiting until August or September to re-accredit. Extensions for re-accrediting agencies beyond October 1 will not be considered.

Those agencies not re-accrediting by October 1 are suspended the following year and must re-apply as a new accrediting agency the second year. During the onsite the agency must supply contemporary proofs for each standard that occurred within the past two calendar years and must also provide annual proofs from, at least, the past year. Re-accrediting agencies are subject to the WASPC accreditation standards in effect at the time of successful completion of the mock assessment.

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 Professional Services 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. Agencies are assigned a mentor during this phase who assists them with many aspects of the accreditation process. 

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, evaluate 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 recommend where improvement can be made.

Results of the onsite and suggestions for improvement are compiled in the final on-site report. Non-compliance issues must be reconciled to the satisfaction of the Director of Professional Services before the agency’s presentation to the Accreditation Commission. All non-compliance issues must be resolved at least 30 days prior to the Commission meeting.

In the Accreditation Commission review phase, the WASPC Director of Professional Services, the chief administrator of the agency seeking accreditation, and the departmental accreditation manager appear before the Accreditation Commission for determination if they have met all WASPC standards. When evaluating an agency’s suitability for accreditation or re-accreditation the findings of the Accreditation Commission is final.

In the Executive Board review phase, the WASPC Executive Board reviews the findings of the Accreditation Commission and confirms 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 occur at the Association's semi-annual training conferences.

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. For additional information on the reaccreditation process refer to Accreditation Committee Responsibilities and Procedures #9 on page 13.

The Association also acknowledges CALEA accredited agencies who have met all WASPC accreditation standards and awards recognition to those agencies that successfully prove compliance. CALEA agencies seeking WASPC affiliate status must comply with all WASPC standards including those that have annual requirements. CALEA affiliate agencies must successfully complete an onsite assessment of outstanding WASPC standards before the next WASPC semi-annual conference following the date that they receive CALEA accreditation/reaccreditation. Agencies moving to WASPC accreditation, and away from CALEA, are treated as a new accrediting agency and must successfully complete an onsite assessment covering all WASPC standards.  All CALEA agencies, regardless of the status they are seeking, must work closely with the Director of Professional services as they navigate the differences between CALEA and WASPC accreditation.    

Additional Program Resources: 

Professional Services Survey Results - December 2017

Accreditation Training
There are no training sessions currently scheduled.

Accreditation Pins  NEW!
We are beginning the process of ordering accreditation pins for interested agencies. By way of reminder the Professional Services Committee and the WASPC Board approved one (1) pin style that will be supplied by WASPC and two other styles that are available for direct purchase through our supplier Symbol Arts at agency expense. We have created an online form that provides information to request WASPC provided pins, and SymbolArts contact information for agencies wishing to direct order one of the other options.

Please submit your requests via the online form (link below) by Friday, December 20. We will place an initial order based on requests received, and future orders from our supplier as inventory is depleted.  Delivery is approximately 6-8 weeks after the order is placed. Once received, WASPC will fulfill those requests.

The following link opens a form that explains the options available to each agency.  Please note that WASPC is not involved in the purchase of alternate pins by accredited agencies.

To access the online accreditation pin information and order form click here.

Contact Information: 

Mike Painter, Director of Professional Services
(360) 292-7959 (direct)
[email protected]
*The WASPC Accreditation Program was not created to conflict or compete with the CALEA Program.