COVINGTON - A three-member team from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc. (CALEA) will arrive in Covington on Aug. 22 to conduct an assessment that will determine whether the Covington Police Department will once again earn accreditation by the commission.
The Covington Police Department was the first in Georgia to achieve accreditation in 1985 and the 10th in the nation. The department is reassessed every three years.
According to Sgt. Chuck Groover, who is the point person for the assessment process, the team will conduct interviews of Police Department personnel, participate in ride-alongs with officers and examine all aspects of the department's policies and procedures, management, operations and support services. Already the team members are examining files sent to them in advance of the on-site visit to help determine if the department is following the policies it has in place.
To achieve accreditation, Groover said the department must meet 380 standards as set forth by the commission, and most of those standards are based on a written policy or document. Groover said the department must be able to document that for the past three years the department has been run according to those policies.
"(The team members) don't care that we've been accredited since 1985," Groover said. "We've got to stand on our merits each time."
Not only is accreditation an indicator of professional excellence for a police department, Groover said it also helps to protect the department from potential legal liability.
"If our employees and our officers are all following our policies and procedures, and those policies and procedures were written in accordance with national standards, it doesn't mean we won't be sued, but the chances of them winning are minimal," Groover said.
Input from Covington Police Department employees and the public will be sought at a public information session at 7 p.m. Aug. 24 in the Municipal Courtroom in the police headquarters located at 1143 Oak St., S.E.
Anyone unable to attend the public information session may submit comments to the assessment team by phone at 770-385-2145 on Aug. 24 between the hours of 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. The phone line will be in the assessors' work area and calls will not be screened or recorded.
According to the Police Department, telephone comments and comments at the public information session will be limited to 10 minutes each and must address the Police Department's ability to comply with the commission's standards. A copy of the standards is available at the Police Department by calling Groover at 770-385-2199.
Written comments about the department's ability to meet standards for reaccreditation will also be accepted. They can be mailed to: Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc., 10306 Eaton Place, Suite 100, Fairfax, VA, 22030-2201.