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State seeks feedback for police re-accreditation

The Ridgefield Police Department is up for its second re-accreditation by the state, and Ridgefielders are welcome to comment on their experiences with the department.

State agents will be in Ridgefield Feb. 20 as part of the process to make sure the department continues to meet professional standards.

“We do interviews, we do inspections, physical plant inspections,” said Ted LeMay of the Police Officer Standards and Training Council. “We interview individuals responsible for various divisions.”

As part of the Tier III re-accreditation administered by the council, state is looking for public comments about the department.

“They can comment on anything,” Mr. LeMay said. “We’re looking to get feedback from the public about how they’re doing their job if they re not doing their job, whatever.”

Copies of the standards are available at the Ridgefield Police Department, 76 East Ridge Road.

There are three tiers to the optional state accreditation program, each dealing with a higher level of the department, from things like prisoner transport and use of force to management of divisions to administrative functionality.

Chief John Roche said Ridgefield was one of the first agencies to reach Tier III accreditation after the late Chief Richard Ligi and the retired Capt. Clifford Scharf moved to get the department accredited. Chief Roche had high praise for work done by Sgt. Amy Kertesz, who has been coordinating the current re-accreditation process.

Before the state program was started, the only option was a $25,000 federal program the department never participated in, Chief Roche said. That was run by CALEA, the Commission for Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc.

“The problem we had with the initial process was it was a very costly accreditation process.”

The state accreditation is free to the town.

Chief Roche said the accreditation gives the department valuable perspective on its own performance.

“It’s a good review whereby we get to see and look at all of our policies. We have to justify what we do to an outside board of review,” he said. Additionally, he said, the accreditation lowers the town’s insurance.

“Usually what we have is our standards are higher than what they have mandated,” Chief Roche said.

While it might be surprising that accreditation is optional, Chief Roche points out that officers are constantly training.

“You don’t just graduate from the police academy and that’s it,” he said, referring to the initial six-month training program new officers go through. Officers, including the chief, who has been on the force for more than 30 years, are trained with the state for 68 hours every three years to remain officers.

Comments may be made by telephone, 203-427-2602; by email, accreditation.compliance@ct.gov with “Ridgefield Police Department” in the subject; or mailed to Ted LeMay, POSTC Accreditation Division, 285 Preston Avenue, Meriden CT 06450.

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