The Bedford Police Department earned it first international accreditation certification from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) following a panel interview by CALEA commissioners at the CALEA’s conference that was held virtually Friday Nov. 13.

On Nov. 13, Bedford Police Department Chief Todd Foreman and Accreditation Manager Kendall Herndon appeared before a three-member panel of CALEA commissioners to answer questions about the Bedford Police Department’s recent June Virtual On-Site Assessment. The commissioner’s reviewed the assessment report prepared in June by a two-member assessment team of law enforcement professionals from outside of Virginia, who reviewed department compliance with applicable standards, interviewed citizens and conducted a public hearing.

The panel consisted of Kevin Joyce, who serves as the chief executive officer for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office in Cumberland, Virginia; Marlon Lynch, the chief safety officer for the University of Utah Department of Public Safety; and Matthew Packard, who serves at Colorado State Patrol Colonel as commander.

The 47-page assessment report, written by retired Chief John R. Mason from Ohio following this team’s virtual assessment, concluded that the Bedford Police Department is a professional law enforcement agency committed to providing a high level of law enforcement services to the community.

CALEA is a voluntary international program that demonstrated a department’s commitment to excellence, while serving its citizens and showing that the agency is meeting internationally established best practices for law enforcement agencies. CALEA Accreditation is the mark of professional excellence and the gold standard in public safety.

In the agency’s quest for accreditation, the Bedford Police Department is required to comply with 181 standards set forth by CALEA. The agency is required to establish written directives for those standards, as well as providing proofs of compliance that the agency is in fact in compliance with standards.

In Virginia there are 340 law enforcement agencies. Only 29 of these agencies are accredited with CALEA. The Bedford Police Department is one of the two smallest law enforcement agencies in Virginia with CALEA Accreditation Status. The Bedford Police Department entered into contract with CALEA in June of 2017 and received CALEA accreditation on Nov. 13.

“I am extremely proud of the men and women of the Bedford Police Department for completing this monumental task,” stated Chief Todd Foreman. “Achieving CALEA Accreditation was a major goal of mine once I was appointed Chief of Police in October of 2014. We were accredited through the Virginia Law Enforcement Standards Commission and wanted to face the challenge of CALEA.”

Foreman further stated that CALEA Accreditation is “truly the gold standard in public safety,” and said the Bedford Police Department will continue to strive to provide the highest quality service to the citizens and visitors of the Town of Bedford.

He said it is important to remember that this is not the Bedford Police Department’s accreditation but is the entire Town of Bedford’s accreditation. He added that it is an honor for the staff of the department and the town to achieve this accreditation standard and to serve the citizens of the Town of Bedford.

“This award of accreditation does not come easy,” said CALEA President Anthony Purcell, chief of police, University of Alabama at Birmingham Police Department. “Agencies must go through a rigorous review and evaluation of their organization and then implement the necessary policy and procedure changes. The process does not stop at that point. By voluntarily choosing to seek CALEA accreditation, the agency commits to an ongoing review of adherence to CALEA’s standards. Each community with CALEA accredited agencies should be confident that their public safety organization is going above and beyond and operating under the highest standards in public safety.”

The following benefits of accreditation were provided:

Controlled Liability Insurance Costs - Accredited status makes it easier for agencies to purchase liability insurance; allows agencies to increase the limit of their insurance coverage more easily; and, in many cases, results in lower premiums.

Stronger Defense Against Lawsuits and Citizen Complaints - Accredited agencies are better able to defend themselves against lawsuits and citizen complaints. Many agencies report a decline in legal actions against them once they become accredited.

Greater Accountability Within the Agency - Accreditation standards give the Chief Executive Officer a proven management system of written directives, sound training, clearly defined lines of authority, and routine reports that support decision making and resource allocation.

Staunch Support from Government Officials - Accreditation provides objective evidence of an agency’s commitment to excellence in leadership, resource management, and service-delivery. Thus, government officials are more confident in the agency’s ability to operate efficiently and meet community needs.

Increases Community Advocacy - Accreditation embodies the precepts of community-oriented policing. It creates a forum in which police and citizens work together to prevent and control crime. This partnership helps citizens understand the challenges confronting law enforcement and gives law enforcement clear direction about community expectations.

Improved Employee Morale - Accreditation is a coveted award that symbolizes professionalism, excellence, and competence. It requires written directives and training to inform employees about policies and practices; facilities and equipment to ensure employee safety; and processes to safeguard employee rights. Employees take pride in their agency, knowing it represents the very best in public safety.

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