Lee’s Summit’s Police Department again received accreditation, continuing the city as one of a handful of cities in the U.S. that have four of its agencies with accreditation.
The police accreditation was presented to Police Chief Travis Forbes late last month by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Forbes said even though the department has a good understanding of the expectations of the commission, it’s not an easy process or an automatic renewal for keeping accreditation.
The national standards and best practices change over time, he said, and the department has to compare its policies with those and update the local standards.
“It causes you to continually look at your policies and standards,” Forbes said. “Otherwise, sometimes you get caught up in the latest emergency and never get around to it.”
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Forbes and Mayor Randy Rhoads said the accreditation is valuable because they bring outside eyes to look at how the city departments are functioning.
During the latest accreditation for the police department, police officials from departments in New Jersey and Ohio visited Lee’s Summit to review its documents, and talk to officers, as well as community members.
This was the fourth accreditation for the police department. In 2008 it received “Recognition” which meant it was starting the process of getting accreditation. It received full accreditation in 2011, and again in 2014 and 2017.
Twenty-two agencies in Missouri participate in the accreditation, with 13 working doing self-assessments leading to accreditation. There are 673 U.S. agencies participating in the commission’s law enforcement accreditation program.
The Parks and Recreation Department was the first city department accredited beginning in 2003, with follow-ups in 2008 and 2013. It’s working on its next round of re-accreditation for 2018 with Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies.
The city’s Public Works department first achieved accreditation in 2004 and has been reaccredited every four years by the American Public Works Association.
The Fire Department was accredited in 2016 for the first time by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, only one of 238 accredited agencies worldwide.
The city’s utilities department has placed accreditation in its strategic plan.
Is accreditation worth the time and money?
“I think so,” Rhoads said. “In order to help us make sure our departments are up to date with national standards. And it should give taxpayers some comfort level that their tax money is being used effectively.”
In May in 2016, when the Fire Department was getting its accreditation, Rhoads said, the city did some research and learned it was one of only 10 U.S. cities having that many accredited departments.
“I think that’s a big deal,” Rhoads said.
Lee’s Summit among leaders for accreditation
Jack Feldman, a management analyst for the city, in May 2016, pulled lists of accredited members of the applicable organizations for the four Lee’s Summit departments: Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Police and Fire.
By cross-referencing he found 10 cities who had accreditation for those agencies:
▪ Bellevue, Wash.
▪ College Station, Texas
▪ Davenport, Iowa
▪ Dublin, Ohio
▪ Gainesville, Fla.
▪ Lee’s Summit
▪ Naperville, Ill.
▪ Peoria, Ariz.
▪ Plano, Texas
▪ Virginia Beach, Va.