Ferndale Police Department closing in on accreditation

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published February 4, 2020

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FERNDALE — In April 2019, the Ferndale Police Department announced plans to seek accreditation through the state of Michigan.

That process, which began in July, was expected to take 18-24 months, but the department now finds itself inching closer to completion after seven months.

Becoming accredited was a recommendation from an independent firm, KRW Associates, after it reviewed the department’s procedures and policies and gave direction on how the department could improve.

According to the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, accreditation is a method to help law enforcement agencies improve their overall performances through a voluntary adoption of standards containing clear statements of professional objectives.

Mayor Melanie Piana said that one of the reasons a police department goes through accreditation is to create more accountability within the department, which results in more accountability to the community that it serves.

“Part of that is reporting out to council on a regular basis how they’re moving through that process,” she said. “A lot of it is the constant self-assessment and going through their policies and practices against the best practices of the law enforcement profession.”

Sgt. Baron Brown, who has been leading the department through the process, stated that there are 105 different standards the department has to meet, covering multiple sections.

As of last week, the department had matched 71% of its policies to the standards.

“Within all those different functions, there are things that we have to comply with,” he said. “For example, arrestee, detainee and prisoner transportation — if you open up that particular section, we have a statement that says we have to have a policy about it and then six bullet points stating what we have to comply with specifically. They range from searching every car before you transport a prisoner ... to using seat belts.

“Once we get those 105 different standards completed … then, we’ve got to prove we do every single one of them. We’ve got to submit a proof, either a picture, documentation, a form of a report or a form that we fill out that proves that we’re doing what we say we’re doing,” Brown continued.

That documentation will be sent to the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police and a commission it created called the Michigan Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission.

When the department is ready, it will contact the commission, which will put together a group of assessors to review, point by point, Ferndale’s progress to make sure it has complied with every policy.

Brown believes that his team has been doing well with its task.

“The fact that, after six months, seven months, we’re this close to getting everything ready to go is pretty cool,” he said. “It shows very good progress.”

Piana said she’s grateful for the Police Department’s dedication to achieving accreditation because more accountability is what the city is looking for, and its leadership wants to make sure they’re creating a great environment for the Police Department.

“We are about talent attraction and retention, and recruitment for police officers is a known issue for cities across the nation, not just in Michigan,” she said. “I think accreditation is going to newly signal to the law (enforcement) profession that we’re pretty serious as a city to following best practices and getting great policing, community policing, to our community, but also a great professional experience to police officers who want to work in our community.”

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