Upper Saddle River police accreditation assessment team invites public comment

SHOUT OUT: Upper Saddle River residents and merchants are invited to give their opinion of the borough police department as part of a process known as accreditation.

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

Members of the department and borough employees are encouraged to call, as well, during the scheduled phone-in period on Monday June 29 between 9 – 11 a.m.

THE NUMBER: (201) 934-3979

Telephone comments are limited to 5 minutes and “must address the agency’s ability to comply with the accreditation standards,” according to Police Chief Patrick Rotella.

(You can also write to: New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission at 11,000 Lincoln Drive West, Suite 12, Marlton, NJ 08053)

A team of assessors from NJSACOP will examine “all aspects of the East Rutherford Police Department’s policies and procedures, management, operations, and support services,” Rotella said.

“Verification by the team that the Upper Saddle River Police Department meets the Commission’s ‘best practice’ standards is part of a voluntary process to achieve accreditation, a highly prized recognition of law enforcement professional excellence,” the chief said.

“Accreditation results in greater accountability within the agency, reduced risk and liability exposure, stronger defense against civil lawsuits, increased community advocacy, and more confidence in the agency’s ability to operate efficiently and respond to community needs,” he added.

Although it hasn’t been proven to directly improve police response time, reduce crime, or cut costs to taxpayers, accreditation does send a message that a department is committed to professionalism — the same as colleges and other institutions do.

For instance, the department must meet standards for prisoner transfers, how petty cash is handled, and the process for evidence chain-of-custody. Those are just some of the 112 standards departments must comply with in order to be accredited.

The review team, made up of law enforcement officers, will “review written materials, interview agency members, and visit offices and other places where compliance with the standards can be observed,” said Harry J. Delgado, the program manager.

They will then report to the commmission, which determines whether to grant accreditation — a distinction that, among other things, helps reduce liability insurance and assures that they are meeting the highest standards of operation.

Those who favor accreditation say it’s one thing to have guidelines, but another to have them sanctioned by an authority such as the state police chiefs association.

Accreditation is valid for a three-year period, during which the agency must submit annual reports.

The initial accreditation fee is $5,000. The department is also required to pay a re-accreditation fee of $1,500 every three years.

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