The CALEA Difference: The Gold Standard in Public Safety Accreditation

Created in 1979 as the first independent law enforcement credentialing authority through the collaborative efforts of law enforcement's major executive associations, IACP, NOBLE, NSA and PERF, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®) is the original and most widely recognized accrediting body in Public Safety. CALEA is a private, not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) entity, and is not part of or obligated to any governmental body.

CALEA's accreditation programs touch the professional lives of 25 percent of the nation's full time state and local law enforcement officers, and in just a little over three decades the organization has become synonymous with excellence in public safety standards.

CALEA’s success with the law enforcement accreditation program created demand for professional credentialing programs in other areas. CALEA responded with accreditation programs in Public Safety Communications, Public Safety Training Academies, and Campus Security. The primary cornerstones that comprise The CALEA Difference and distinguish CALEA from all other forms of public safety accreditation are professionalism, stewardship, integrity, diversity, independence, continuous improvement, objectivity, credibility, consistency, knowledge, experience, accountability and collaboration. Considering these pillars of strength and fortitude, CALEA is the unrivaled credentialing organization within the Public Safety sector.

CALEA exists to improve the delivery of public safety services by maintaining a credible and best-in-class body of standards, developed by a highly regarded group of public safety practitioners; establishing and administering an accreditation process; and recognizing professional excellence through a highly coveted, comprehensive awards program.

New Logo Signifies Strong Support of Agencies and Communities

To underscore its unwavering commitment to client agencies and respect for the communities they serve, CALEA recently redesigned its organizational logo. The new logo incorporates an inverted gold pyramid, and emphasizes the view that broad-based community and client agency constituents reside at the top of the pyramid. Conversely, CALEA is positioned at the inverse apex, and represents a foundation of support, guidance and stewardship in the constant pursuit of public safety excellence and the gold standard in accreditation.

Through a highly collaborative effort, CALEA provides public safety agencies an opportunity to voluntarily demonstrate that they meet an established set of professional standards and processes for decision-making. Compliance is verified by a team of independent, unbiased (out-of-state), CALEA-trained assessors. To further safeguard its standards against dilution and to promote the continuation of best practices, CALEA applies strong conflict of interest reviews to ensure its assessors are always able to provide unadulterated assessments of candidate agencies.

"It is CALEA's inherent obligation to ensure the concept of accreditation will always remain a mark of excellence for agencies participating in its programs and to maintain brand integrity," said CALEA Chairman, Louis M. Dekmar. "CALEA owes this to its clients, partnering associations, and the broader public safety community."

Tiered Accreditation Model Expected to Increase Enrollment

To advance its mission of ensuring the highest standards and best practices in public safety, CALEA also recently introduced a tiered law enforcement accreditation model that is expected to increase enrollment in its credentialing programs. Simply put, this new model allows law enforcement agencies to choose between levels of CALEA accreditation based on need and capacity.

"As a not-for-profit organization CALEA will always strive to control client costs and will reduce its fees where possible with client growth," Dekmar said. "More importantly, as greater numbers of agencies enroll in CALEA accreditation through our new tiered model, the value of collective participation will be recognized and the entire profession will benefit, thereby advancing the mission of CALEA."

Specifically, CALEA's goals are to consistently (across state lines and borders) formalize essential management procedures; establish fair and non-discriminatory personnel practices; improve service delivery; solidify inter-agency cooperation and coordination; increase community and staff confidence in the agency; and strengthen crime prevention and control capabilities.

Diversity is a Hallmark of the Commission

The 21-member Commission represents a group of ethnically diverse men and women and comprises eleven law enforcement professionals and ten representatives from the public and private sectors, including chiefs of police, sheriffs, mayors, judges, senators, and academicians.

CALEA’s accreditation programs continually challenge and hold enrolled clients to a Gold Standard of best practice resulting in considerable benefits including:

  • Recognition as a professional law enforcement agency or public safety service provider
  • Results in policies and practices that are consistently reviewed and updated
  • Interaction in a professional network of public safety leaders and practitioners from various agencies
  • Greater accountability within the agency and increased community involvement
  • Reduced risk and liability exposure through policy and internationally accepted best practices
  • Support from government officials and other public and private entities
  • Increased community advocacy and involvement

CALEA Expands to Education Sector

With the recent enrollment of Anne Arundel Community College (Maryland) in May of this year, CALEA's gold standard platform in public safety accreditation has expanded to non-sworn security organizations in the education sector. This includes agencies and organizations serving colleges, universities, secondary and primary schools, specialized schools and other educational institutions.

Additionally, CALEA has enhanced its standards for law enforcement agencies serving educational institutions, to ensure critical best practices are consistently addressed. These new initiatives have worked to further promote the delivery of professional public safety services in these special venues.

Heightened Accountability Benefits Public Safety

CALEA heightens accountability for all of its clients, and in doing so also encourages greater accountability within municipalities and the communities they serve by requiring, providing, ensuring or facilitating:

  • Development of a comprehensive, uniform, and well thought out set of written directives; one of the most successful methods for reaching administrative and operational goals, while also providing direction to personnel
  • Reports and analyses necessary to make fact-based, informed management decisions
  • Preparedness programs to be put in place, so an agency is ready to address natural disasters or man-made critical incidents
  • Development or improvement of an agency's relationship with the community
  • A continuation of standards that clearly define authority, performance, and responsibilities
  • Limitation of an agency's liability and risk exposure by demonstrating that internationally recognized standards for law enforcement have been met
  • An agency's pursuit of professional excellence

New Regional Service Delivery Model

Continuous improvement is a practice that differentiates CALEA from all other accreditation bodies in public safety. It is at the very core of the organization's accreditation programs and transcends all aspects of the CALEA client experience. To strengthen client service and enhance resources and response time, CALEA has embarked on a new regional service delivery model that includes the following select initiatives and benefits:

  • An infrastructure that promotes grassroots involvement by program managers in local/regional public safety meetings and activities
  • Greater awareness and responsiveness regarding matters affecting public safety professionals in specific geographic regions
  • Ensuring a more consistent and decisive assessment process for assessors, commissioners and clients
  • Providing regional training opportunities for clients and those interested in CALEA accreditation
  • Incorporating systematic reviews of client trends and patterns, and preparation of training to address important issues based on regional data
  • Facilitating more frequent CALEA contact with clients to support their pursuit of professional excellence
  • Providing proactive outreach from CALEA staff on important accreditation-related matters
  • Providing greater client assistance in researching and developing solutions to standards-related issues

"Trends indicate CALEA will likely experience more growth in the coming years and the new programs recently approved by the Commission will certainly impact these numbers in a positive way," Dekmar said. "CALEA recognizes the importance of its role in the public safety community and will continuously work to ensure its services and programs exceed expectations. “Excellence in Public Safety” is our brand and we will use every available resource to provide confidence for agencies participating in our programs that CALEA is the Gold Standard in public safety accreditation."

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