Conyers Police prepares for recertification

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

CONYERS -- City officials expect the Conyers Police Department will regain its state recertification by the end of February and new national accreditation by the end of this year.

The move comes two years after Conyers Police lost its state certification which eventually led to the resignation of former police chief David Cathcart and other officers.

Conyers City Manager Tony Lucas said last week he expects the city's police department will reattain the state certification by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police (GACP).

The Georgia Law Enforcement Certification program, established by GACP, involves 118 standards that law enforcement agencies are required to meet or exceed in order to be certified.

Lucas explained the reason for the department to lose its GACP certification in 2010 was administrative in nature, such as tracking records and filings with the Georgia Peace Officers Safety Training, or POST.

"Out of those 118 standards you have to maintain some stringent files and you have to track everything," he said. "If there is a ticket, how was that tracked? In training, you've got to make sure (an officer) has all of his training. Not only do you have to say that you had it, we have to be able to prove it and demonstrate it with the C-12 filings we send to POST. You've got to have all of those things together."

Lucas explained recertification was coming up in 2010 and the department decided against holding a mock certification assessment. Lucas said the department just wasn't prepared.

"It was in shambles to be quite honest," Lucas said. "The parties who were in charge of it at that time had let it get into that condition and we have four different standards that were complete failures that the commission would not even entertain us getting a probationary status."

The city elected to go without certification to allow time to fix the problems and the opportunity to reapply after 12 months. Lucas said he was confident that GACP certification will be reinstated and gave a lot of the credit to Chief Gene Wilson, who was hired as public safety director in January 2010 and later succeeded Cathcart as police chief.

A new component in the process is the possibility of gaining national accreditation through Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA. Lucas said the national accreditation is tougher but will be "quite a feather in our hat" if it can be achieved.

"If things go as we have on our schedule now, we will have our national certification by August," Lucas said. "We will be reviewed in June and July and we should receive that in Jacksonville, Fla."

Lucas said CALEA will meet in Jacksonville and review its accreditation with Mayor Randy Mills, Wilson, himself and CPD unit commanders.

Lucas will update the police certification process at the City Council's annual retreat this weekend at Lake Lanier Islands.