New York State Division of Criminal Justice Accreditation Program
Accreditation is a progressive and contemporary way of helping police agencies evaluate and improve their overall performance. It provides formal recognition that an organization meets or exceeds general expectations of quality in the field. Accreditation acknowledges the implementation of policies that are conceptually sound and operationally effective.
The New York State program became operational in 1989 and has four principle goals:
- To increase the effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement agencies utilizing existing personnel, equipment and facilities to the extent possible;
- To promote increased cooperation and coordination among law enforcement agencies and other agencies of the criminal justice services;
- To ensure the appropriate training of law enforcement personnel; and
- To promote public confidence.
The Accreditation Program is comprised of 110 standards and is divided into three categories. Standards in the Administrative section have provisions for such topics as agency organization, fiscal management, personnel practices, and records. Training standards encompass basic and in-service instruction, as well as training for supervisors and specialized or technical assignments. Operations standards deal with such critical and litigious topics as high-speed pursuits, roadblocks, patrol, and unusual occurrences.
Overview of the New York State Accreditation Program
New York was the first state in the country to sponsor a law enforcement accreditation program. Community leaders embraced the initiative from the outset, and the program was immediately endorsed by leading statewide organizations of law enforcement and elected officials.
The initiative has had a significant impact on law enforcement in a very short period of time. More than 260 agencies submitted applications to participate during the first eight years of the program’s operation, and over 100 are currently accredited. Accredited agencies range in size from four full-time officers to more than 4,000 sworn personnel and extend geographically from the tip of Long Island in Suffolk County to St. Lawrence County in the north and Erie and Monroe counties in the west. Insurance benefits, enhanced community support, and a greater overall standard of professionalism are just are few of the many tangible benefits that accredited agencies enjoy.
The impact of the accreditation initiative has not gone unnoticed. It received national recognition in 1992 when the Council of State Governments determined that New York’s program “has dealt with a significant problem in an effective and innovative manner and has the potential to be transferred to other states.” The program was one of just eight in the entire country that the Council selected for recognition that year.
More than half of the states have requested information about the program, and law enforcement officials from as far away as California, Virginia and Kentucky have visited New York to study the program firsthand. Several other states including Oklahoma, Michigan, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have invited New York officials to meet with representatives of their program planning committees. Several states have used New York’s accreditation structure and resource materials as models when developing their own programs.
In the final analysis, the impact of the Accreditation Program stems from the profound commitment that New York’s law enforcement executives have made to professionalism, and from their desire to provide the best possible services to the communities that they serve. It is anticipated that the Accreditation Program will continue to grow and have an even greater impact in the years ahead.