To the Editor:

In June of this year, our department underwent an exhaustive law enforcement audit. This audit was conducted by a team of police professionals that are assessors with the Commission on Law Enforcement Accreditation (CALEA).

Since the first CALEA Accreditation Award was granted in 1984, the program has become the primary method for an agency to voluntarily demonstrate their commitment to excellence in law enforcement. The standards upon which the Law Enforcement Accreditation Program is based reflect the current thinking and experience of law enforcement practitioners and researchers.

Major law enforcement associations, leading educational and training institutions, governmental agencies, as well as law enforcement executives internationally acknowledge CALEA’s Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies and its Accreditation Programs as benchmarks for professional law enforcement agencies.

Our audit involved a comprehensive review of our department’s policies, procedures, and operations. For several days, the auditors reviewed three hundred and ninety-three CALEA standards. The audit team ensured our department adopted and followed law enforcement best practices.

Although our department has been accredited since 1992, this audit resulted in our best review in many years. 50 percent of the audited files required additional information, and none of the files were noncompliant.

Sergeant Brian Mitchell and Sergeant David Payne, whom I refer to as our accreditation team, is commended for their efforts. However, every sworn and civilian member of our department contributed to this effort. Their work each day helped our agency achieve excellence.

A caring, community-minded, and thoughtful agency

During the on-site visit, the assessment team spoke with dozens of community leaders and stakeholders. The assessors commented that:

“All comments received from these community leaders were positive and praiseworthy regarding the agency, its practices, and its reputation regarding compliance with accreditation standards. A few descriptive comments to describe the agency were: responsive, professional, energetic, dynamic, collegial, caring, helpful, accommodating, thoughtful, deliberate, people-oriented, a culture of service, and community-minded. As an example of these comments, Laura Budd of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce said the department is responsive and sensitive to community needs. Brenda Penn-Williams, president of the Norwalk, Conn., NAACP, said the NAACP has no problems with the New Canaan Police Department, and they are doing a good job.”

On Nov. 16, our department was issued its ninth CALEA Award.

Our department is proud to be one of only three CALEA accredited local police departments in Fairfield County. Notably, only 13 percent of police departments in Connecticut are CALEA accredited. While less than five percent of all police departments across the United States are CALEA accredited.

Why law enforcement accreditation is a best practice

The accreditation process is no small feat and is very labor-intensive. However, being an accredited police department has many benefits, aside from knowing that our department is following law enforcement best practices.

1. Reduced risk and liability exposure: Most agencies experience a reduction in liability insurance costs.

2. Stronger defense against civil lawsuits: Accredited agencies are better able to defend against civil lawsuits.

3. Greater accountability within the agency: CALEA standards give an agency the tools which support smart decision-making and resource allocation.

4. Support from government officials based on objective evidence: Accreditation gives government officials confidence in their agency’s abilities to operate and meet community needs.

5. Enhanced community advocacy: Accreditation embodies the precepts of community-oriented policing. It creates a forum in which law enforcement agencies and citizens work together to prevent and control challenges confronting law enforcement and provides clear direction about community expectations.

Our department’s mission statement is: “To Protect and Serve our community with courage, professionalism, and integrity.” We now have affirmative proof from an independent assessment team that we are fulfilling our mission.

When the public asks what we are thankful for, we often tell them that we are most grateful for the quality, compassion, and professionalism of our officers. In our opinion, there is no better police department in the nation. We now have objective evidence as a result of our law enforcement audit that our opinion is fact-based.

When you see our officers, thank them for what they do, the risks that they take, and how they so professionally “protect and serve” our town.

Chief of Police Leon Krolikowski

New Canaan Police Department