By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: Feb. 24, 2018 | 3:05 p.m.
PRINCE GEORGE – It was a special evening in the Prince George County Boardroom last Tuesday evening as the men and women of the Prince George Police Department were honored for receiving its first-ever state reaccreditation, a high achievement for a law enforcement agency.
Earlier this month, Prince George Police Department Chief Keith Early announced that the department had indeed completed their first reaccreditation through the Virginia Law Enforcement Professionals Standards Commission, or VLEPSC, with the department being given a formal certificate by Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services Program Manager Derrick Mayes during Tuesday’s regular board of supervisors meeting.
To achieve reaccreditation, the Police Department must undergo a rigorous on-site inspection every four years by multiple, specially trained, independent assessors. These assessors examine all areas of the agency to ensure compliance with the professional standards set forth by the Commission. The process of complying with these professional standards requires daily attention by department members.
In early December of last year, Prince George Police was found to be “flawlessly in compliance with all 190 applicable standards.” Prince George Police first received state accreditation in January 2014.
“Your police department makes sure the individuals who are supposed to do the job get the job done and that is what is looked at,” Mayes remarked.
“An agency that can allow me to send three people in here from anywhere in the state of Virginia with open doors and everything right there for you to see and we can walk out three days later and, out of 190 standards they have to maintain each year for four years, Prince George Police Department had zero returns,” Mayes continued as he was flanked by officers with the department who listened on.
For the VLEPSC, the accreditation process is important for a number of reasons from a community policing and administration standpoint.
“Accreditation increases the law enforcement agency’s ability to prevent and control crime through more effective and efficient delivery of law enforcement services to the community it serves,” the organization explained. “Accreditation enhances community understanding of the law enforcement agency and its role in the community as well as its goals and objectives. Citizen confidence in the policies and practices of the agency is increased. Accreditation, in conjunction with the philosophy of community policing, commits the agency to a broad range of programs (such as crime prevention) that directly benefit the public.”
On the administrative side, the VLEPSC serves to “increase cooperation and coordination with other law enforcement agencies and other branches of the criminal justice system.”
“The accreditation standards provide norms against which agency performance can be measured and monitored over time,” they explained. “Accreditation provides the agency with a continuous flow of Commission distributed information about exemplary policies, procedures, and projects. Accreditation provides objective measures to justify decisions related to budget requests and personnel policies. Accreditation serves as a yardstick to measure the effectiveness of the agency’s programs and services. The services provided are defined, and uniformity of service is assured. Accreditation streamlines operations, providing more consistency and more effective deployment of agency manpower.”
For Mayes, the spotless reaccreditation of Prince George Police shows a commitment to effective policing in the county.
“This shows an attention to detail to what the process means and what doing the job means,” he said. “Accreditation is not something that tells you what to do, it just simply is a clear transparent way of doing it and Prince George County Police Department has shown they are a transparent agency.”
Joined by Retired Prince George Police Chief Ed Frankenstein, who was in place for the department’s first accreditation in 2014, Early offered words of praise for the men and women of the department.
“We have a terrific staff,” he said. “Our employees, sworn and civilian, paid and volunteer, they are the ones who really get it done. Some of us were able to join you while others had to go to calls for service or they’re home asleep so they can get ready for the next shift. This certificate belongs to everyone who gets all of this really done.”
Following photos and handshakes, supervisors shared their own words of support to the police department for their accomplishment.
“I have been on this board and there hasn’t been a time where I have not praised the police department at any chance I get,” Chairman Alan Carmichael said. “We have a safe county and we strive to continue and will continue to give you the tools to do your job.”
“I know it may seem like sometimes we take you for granted because we look for you to be out there every night protecting us and when it’s quiet, it’s all good, but this is an outstanding achievement and I am proud of the department,” Supervisor Floyd Brown remarked.
The sentiments shared by supervisors and the audience alike were echoed by County Administrator Percy Ashcraft as he offered his own pointed comments on the department’s exceptional performance in its reaccreditation.
“The leadership that is in that department, from the chief to the captains, and on down the rank, these men and women take Prince George citizens one by one and make them their own and, when something happens to someone in our Prince George County family, it’s taken personally,” Ashcraft said. “It is just great and be surrounded by men and women that have the pride in their work and in their county.”
“There is no tougher time in America right now to be a police officer,” he continued. “To be willing to fulfill the obligations of that profession at a time when it’s most challenging, I admire all of you.”
According to the VLEPSC, the department will have its next assessment prior to January of 2022.