Suffolk Police Chief Thomas Bennett, right, gives a presentation at Wednesday’s City Council meeting as Maj. Dean Smith holds a certificate confirming the police department’s accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
Suffolk Police Chief Thomas Bennett, right, gives a presentation at Wednesday’s City Council meeting as Maj. Dean Smith holds a certificate confirming the police department’s accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

Police receive accreditation

Published 11:10pm Thursday, May 8, 2014

After four years of working toward accreditation by an outside agency, the Suffolk Police Department announced Wednesday it had received accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

Only five percent of law enforcement agencies in the United States are accredited by the organization, Police Chief Thomas Bennett said.

“To accomplish accreditation, it took a whole lot of hard work and a whole lot of change,” Bennett said at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

As part of the process, the department wrote or re-wrote 75 policies and 60 standard operating procedures, all of which were reviewed by the city manager’s office, city attorney’s office and the Human Resources department.

Surprise line and staff inspections and annual analysis of policies were implemented. In addition, an annual review of all internal affairs complaints and the annual review of employee grievances were instituted.

In December 2013, the department underwent a three-day external review by a team of assessors from the accrediting agency, which reviewed the police department’s files, toured the agency and conducted numerous interviews with officers in the field and citizens in the community. An open public comment forum was held during that time.

Bennett said Wednesday that the accrediting agency’s comments on Suffolk Police Department were positive.

“There were three very minor adjustments that had to be made, and no significant changes,” Bennett said.

After Bennett had thanked everyone who helped the department accomplish its accreditation, including all of his personnel, Mayor Linda T. Johnson felt he deserved some praise.

“We have the best police chief around,” she said in Wednesday’s meeting.

Councilman Roger Fawcett said he has experience with accreditation in agencies he has worked for.

“It’s the most daunting task you could put a department through,” he said. “Accreditation doesn’t stop with just that one certificate. You have to meet those benchmarks to keep accreditation.”

“As the chief of police, I have seen the changes and the work first hand,” Bennett was quoted as saying in a press release. “These changes put transparent systems in place, which allow the citizens we serve to see those changes as we build a police department of which they can be proud.”

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