The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®), was created in 1979 as a credentialing authority through the joint efforts of law enforcement’s major executive associations.
CALEA continues to serve as the major national and international law enforcement accreditation body in the Western Hemisphere.
Interested in state-level programs? Learn more here.
Why should an agency become accredited with CALEA?
There are a variety of benefits to achieving accredited status at a national level. Ultimately, the goal of accreditation is to create safer communities by building trust, and incorporating best practices for policing. Accreditation provides the CEO of the agency with insight that promotes the efficient use of resources and improved service delivery.
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There are five phases in the accreditation process:
Agencies interested in pursuing accreditation will need to create an account with CALEA and request an enrollment package. This package will include agreements that will require sign-off.
Self-assessment refers to the internal, systematic analysis of an agency's operations, management and practices to determine if it complies with applicable standards.
Self-assessment requires the careful review of the program-specific CALEA standards in making these determinations. CALEA will confirm compliance for initial accreditation through a remote, web-based file review and site-based assessments. BlueIQ Law Enforcement Consultants can assist with not only conducting mock assessments, but also implementing a system that can support a streamlined accreditation process.
Initial Self-Assessment Timeframes
Law Enforcement Accreditation or Advanced Law Enforcement Accreditation / 36 months
Communications Accreditation / 24 months
Training Academy Accreditation / 24 months
Campus Security Accreditation / 24 months
Once accredited, all programs include annual compliance assessments, conducted remotely by CALEA staff, and a visit by CALEA site-based team members during the fourth year to verify continued compliance. Accredited agencies apply ongoing self-assessment strategies, in order to maintain compliance.
It is important to note that training, networking and access to your CALEA Regional Program Manager is essential to an effective self-assessment. Agencies should take advantage of all the resources available to them to increase the probability of achieving accredited status.
The assessment includes a remote, web-based file review(s) and site-based assessment to confirm standards compliance. This includes public comment sessions, interviews with various individuals associated with the respective agency, process and outcomes-mapping, and community feedback.
The assessment model works to ensure agency policies have been implemented that complement CALEA standards, and that the agency is complying with its policies and other requirements associated with the accreditation process.
When an agency requests an initial assessment, the Regional Program Manager will consult with agency representatives to confirm assessment readiness. A CALEA Compliance Service Member remotely reviews the agency's documentation for compliance.
Once the Compliance Service Member successfully completes this review, an assessment team will travel to the agency to conduct a comprehensive site-based assessment. Collectively, this will culminate in a report reviewed by the Commission to determine accreditation status.
Commission Review and Decision
The final credentialing decision is made by the Board of CALEA Commissioners. Each agency being presented for accreditation is assigned to an Agency Review Committee, which consists of CALEA Commissioners. The committee facilitates a public review hearing to discuss the findings of the assessment with agency representatives.
Maintaining Compliance and Reaccreditation
The accreditation process is considered an essential management model that guides the public safety agencies through organizational growth, challenges and change.
The accreditation process is not to be viewed as an event that occurs once every review cycle; rather, as an on-going, quality performance review of the agency. A successful reaccreditation is contingent upon the agency's ability to demonstrate continued compliance with applicable standards during the period being reviewed.
Reaccreditation is accomplished by providing consistent reaccreditation maintenance, tracking agency performance, and identifying changes to agency procedures over the preceding review period. It is important for the agency to keep abreast of the accreditation process during this period.
The agency must also have a reliable system for ensuring that periodic reports, analyses, reviews, and other activities mandated by applicable accreditation standards are accomplished during the reaccreditation period. These activities are the focal point of the reaccreditation assessment.
BlueIQ Law Enforcement Consulting works closely with your agency to ensure that the time, energy and resources being allocated toward the accreditation process are not wasted.
While successful reaccreditation may seem to be a singular goal, the real achievement is when agency practices contribute to an ongoing culture of excellence and professionalism. This is only attained when careful attention is paid across the entire review period.
Policy Manual Review
Before digitizing policies, many agencies take the opportunity to review their manual for language and procedures.
Policy manuals, proofs and accreditation files that are built on digital platforms can streamline the workflow and make the assessment process easy.
During a mock assessment, seasoned accreditation professionals provide valuable feedback to find and correct critical errors prior to your on-site assessment.