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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  • MrJiggyFly

    Good job Chief and SPD! My family appreciates the departments dedication to keeping us safe. We thank you.

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  • J. Peoples

    Well done indeed….public service at its finest!

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  • Roger Leonard

    Chief Bennett showed strong leadership in this effort.

    It will insure that Suffolk and its citizens are served by the very best community policing staff and strategies possible. I commend his leadership and wish that other areas of Suffolk were so well run and lead. Specifically it was stated:

    “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.”

    This is truly a positive statement of commitment to our community and why we have an effective policing effort in Suffolk.

    It is imperative that all aspects of government, especially those that can so greatly affect our personal live, be transparent, unbiased, and effective. I appreciate the Chief’s efforts in these areas and can only hope he inspires others in Suffolk Leadership, to also embrace this philosophy…

    Great job Chief Bennett and also to our police staff!

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  • Lovebug

    gs…

    what it cost the City and its Citizens is a much better Police Department. The 4 years of work it took to get this done has been long and rough on many at different levels. To say that Suffolk’s Police Dept is apart of only 5% of ALL Departments to receive accreditation is simply mind blowing and wonderful. Chief Bennett has come into this City and worked his tail off to better the Dept for the good of its Police Officers and the citizens of this city. He certainly has and continues to go above and beyond for the dept and this city and is a huge asset. I think that rather than ask if this great achievement that they have worked so hard for cost the city any money we should all be thanking the Chief and his staff for the hard work they put into this to place our Police Dept into the 5% stack of Police Departments that are accredited in this Country. We all want these agencies to be transparent and our Chief has made sure his Department IS every bit of that with this accreditation. Now if we can get the other agencies in this city to take the same stand we could do away with the under the table/back door agendas that go on.
    I for one am over the moon proud of what they have been able to do. Thank you so much for the job you have done and continue to do everyday. It doesn’t go unnoticed and is much appreciated.

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  • gs

    Did this cost the city any money?

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    • Factfinder

      Yes, it comes at a cost. Arlington County, one of the first CALEA accredited agencies in the state dropped accreditation due to the cost involved.

      It is not cheap, but it is value added when something may go awry. An accredited department is in much better shape should there be litigation than one that is not. Now, the department should seek advanced CALEA accreditation. This is a good start, but is certainly not the end-all be-all.

      There are about 15 law enforcement agencies in Virginia that are accredited through CALEA.

      There is a state accreditation program, but it is not nearly as tough as meeting CALEA standards.

      Suffolk has talked about accreditation for 20 years and until Chief Bennett came, nothing was done to attain that goal. Good work Chief. Well done!!!

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  • SANSR

    Well done!

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