By J.D. O’Gara
The Franklin Police have been quite literally working to bring their department into tip-top shape for the past couple years, and at the end of last month, (at Local Town Pages’ press time, June 22nd and 23rd), they were scheduled for an external, peer review by assessors for the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission (https://masspoliceaccred.net)
. Massachusetts is one of 30 states to offer his voluntary program, which establishes professional standards police agencies should meet and recognizes those that display best practices for the profession. Being accredited by this Commission speaks volumes about the standards to which a police agency holds itself.
“We’ve been in self-assessment for about 4-5 years. We were certified last May,” said Franklin Deputy Chief of Police James West, who has overseen the accreditation process. “That’s 159 standards we had to meet.” Certification, according to the MPAC website, is a good step toward meeting the 382 standards of accreditation set by the organization, 257 of which are mandatory.
“About four assessors will come in and go through all of our files,” says West, adding the process could take a month or two to find out if they receive final approval. If they do, the department will officially receive accreditation from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission in a ceremony.
The MPAC’s accreditation sets the highest standards set in the state for police departments to meet. Standards reflect the best professional practices in police management, administration, operations, and support services. Areas evaluated included
• agency authority, jurisdiction and use of force;
• recruitment, selection, and promotion of personnel
• training, discipline, and internal affairs
• patrol, traffic operations and criminal investigations
• victim/witness assistance
• emergency response planning
• prisoner transportation and holding facilities
• records and communications
• collection and preservation of evidence, and
• property and evidence control.
“These include facilities-related issues, holding cells have to have certain criteria, the evidence room, the way we handle and process everything. It needs to be up to standard, and we have to follow the proper policies. Not only do we have to have the policies, but the assessors require us to prove we (implement) those policies,” said West, adding that the department’s work toward accreditation “showed us and made us better at documentation and making sure all the little things are done right.
“We have a very, very professional department,” continued West, “I think our policies and procedures, even before we started, were good, but there are processes that definitely need to be followed if there is a complaint or issue that arises. This process helps to make sure everything is documented, and everything is transparent. We can say, if we’re accredited, that we are doing the right things and following the right procedures and industry standards.”
If Franklin receives accreditation, that designation will be good for three years, after which it must be re-accredited.
Those professional standards, said West, “are reasonable. They’re fair, and they hold us accountable as a police department.”
West points out that the process is a team effort.
“A lot of people help with the process,” said West, thanking Officer Rich Martini for his help with the large volume of paperwork, “the 300 files and all the documentation that goes with it, but this is a team effort. Everyone helped out in a small way.”