WHAT IS CERTIFICATION?
Certification is a progressive and time-proven way of helping law enforcement agencies calculate and improve their overall performances. The foundation of certification lies in the promulgation of standards containing a clear statement of professional objectives. Participating agencies conduct a thorough self-analysis to determine how existing operations can be adapted to meet these objectives. When the procedures are in place, a team of trained assessors verifies that applicable standards have been successfully implemented. The process culminates with a decision by a joint executive committee that the agency has met the requirements for certification.
Certification status represents a significant professional achievement. Certification acknowledges the implementation of policies and procedures that are conceptually sound and operationally effective.
BENEFITS OF CERTIFICATION
The benefits of certification include:
- Confirmation that agency practices are consistent with progressive professional standards
- Greater operational and administrative effectiveness
- Enhanced understanding of agency policies and practices
- Greater public confidence in the agency
- Recognition in the field of outstanding achievement
- Reduced liability potential
- Greater governmental and community support
Each applicant is required to pay a $375.00 certification fee. Agencies also will be responsible for the travel, lodging and meals of the assessors during the pre-certification review and on-site evaluation.
CERTIFICATION DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT
In March 1990, representatives of the Georgia Sheriffs Association contacted the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to discuss the possibility of developing law enforcement agency standards. Subsequently, DCA contacted the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, the Georgia Municipal Association, the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, and others to discuss their interest in and support for a standards development project.
In response to a request made by the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association and others, DCA formed a committee of representatives from law enforcement and local government to work with staff in undertaking a standards development project. POST was asked to be a co-sponsor of this effort and contributed equally to the project.
After several months of diligent work, committee and staff members produced a comprehensive set of voluntary, model management, operational and service level standards for Georgia law enforcement agencies.
In late 1996, the GACP assigned a committee, along with key members from the Georgia Police Accreditation Coalition (GPAC), to review and further develop the process to the point where it became a viable, workable program. From this collaborative effort, the Law Enforcement Certification Program, endorsed by the State of Georgia, was born.
The Agency Certification Program of the GACP has identified standards that are felt to be essential to the efficient and effective operation of law enforcement agencies. Participating agencies are expected to implement all applicable standards. Some standards do not apply to all agencies, and waivers may be obtained in exceptional circumstances. The standards provide a detailed blueprint for professional enforcement. They are credible, realistic, flexible and effective.
The standards incorporate contemporary professional thought and practices in the State, and will insure the goal of increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of Georgia law enforcement agencies.
THE CERTIFICATION PROCESS
The certification process has several steps. The amount of time an agency should plan on allotting to complete the process varies depending upon the amount of work that needs to be accomplished and the time that can be committed to the task of drafting and implementing new procedures. The six steps of the certification process are:
2. Policy Development
4. Joint Committee Review
5. Awards Ceremony
6. Monitoring Compliance
Agencies that want to participate in the certification program can obtain an application package from the program director. Staff will send all necessary materials to the agency, including an “Agency Participation Agreement” which describes the program policies and specific responsibilities that the agency and the Association have during the process.
2. POLICY DEVELOPMENT
The policy development stage is the agency’s effort to meet applicable program requirements: the standards. Documentation must be compiled to demonstrate compliance with those standards the department already meets, and new procedures must be drafted for those not yet addressed. Experienced, trained assessors are available through the program for consultation and help throughout the process.
Agency officials notify the director when they are satisfied that all program requirements have been met. The director then designates a team of’ experienced law enforcement assessors, who visit the agency to verify that it qualifies for certification status.
4. JOINT COMMITTEE REVIEW
The official designated to coordinate the assessment prepares a detailed summary of the team’s findings and recommendations for the Joint Review Committee. If certification is granted, it will be valid for a period of three years. If Certification is deferred, the Committee will advise the agency what it must do to become certified.
5. AWARDS CEREMONY
Agencies that meet all program requirements will be honored at a scheduled presentation at their city or council meeting.
6. MONITORING COMPLIANCE
Certified agencies must file annual reports attesting to their continuing compliance and identify any instances of significant non-compliance.
The Certification Program provides a comprehensive blueprint for effective, professional law enforcement. Program staff at the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police are prepared to make their knowledge, experience and resources available to help your agency become certified. We encourage you to contact us to obtain more information on the program. Click here to view and download program info, documents and forms.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Mark Bender – State Certification Coordinator
Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police
3500 Duluth Park Lane, Suite 700
Duluth, Georgia 30096
Phone: (770) 495-9650
Fax: (770) 495-7872