Grosse Pointe City seeks to ‘raise that bar’ with public safety accreditation

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published May 28, 2021

GROSSE POINTE CITY — Grosse Pointe City Public Safety Director John Alcorn wants to incorporate some of the best practices in policing into his department.

Alcorn sought approval from the Grosse Pointe City Council during a meeting by Zoom May 10 for the department to pursue accreditation from the Michigan Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission. He said that going through this process is “all about doing things better” and is self-initiated.

“I’ve been looking for ways to continue to raise that bar,” Alcorn told the council. “Accreditation gives us that outside, expert stamp of approval that says we’re doing things the right way.”

He said Lt. Thomas Martindale had already volunteered to be the accreditation manager, which would require him to attend introductory training. The next time training would be available would be this fall, Alcorn said.

Alcorn said only 6% of the roughly 600 law enforcement agencies in Michigan are accredited. Another 11% are in the process of seeking accreditation. That leaves 83% — including the public safety departments in all five Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods — as not being accredited.

Alcorn said he felt “the time is right” for the department to take this step. He estimated it would take the City two years to receive accreditation.

The cost for the first year is $19,000, which includes accreditation manager training, an accreditation fee, an initial on-site assessment of the department and a second assessment team checkup. In future years, Alcorn said, the cost for maintaining accreditation is about $1,800 a year, which includes the annual accreditation fee.

“The end result is a huge badge of honor,” Alcorn said. “It’s really a big deal to get this.”

He said other cities in Michigan that are accredited include East Grand Rapids and Bloomfield Hills, both of which are similar to the City in that they’re small communities with public safety departments.

The expense isn’t in the 2021-22 budget, but City Manager Pete Dame said it could be paid for out of the capital improvement fund.

“I think it’s very much a worthwhile project,” Dame said. “I applaud the chief for looking at it.”

Alcorn said the City has three built-in training days on its schedule that could be used toward the training needed to achieve accreditation.

“It’s going to be tough, but I’m confident we can do it without destroying the budget,” Alcorn said of training and avoiding the use of overtime.

Although they can do most of the needed training at the City’s new public safety facility, Alcorn said some training would also need to take place off-site.

The council didn’t take a formal vote on the expenditure, but did voice strong support for it. City Councilmen Donald Parthum Jr. and John Stempfle said that $19,000 is a small expense when considering the budget as a whole.

“I think it sounds like a fantastic initiative,” City Councilman Christopher Walsh said.

City Councilman Daniel Williams agreed with Walsh, calling City support of the initiative “a no-brainer.”

“We have a premier (public safety) department,” Williams said. “We have very good officers. With John’s leadership, we’ll be able to get this done in a timely fashion.”

Like City Councilman Terence Thomas — who thanked Alcorn for looking for ways to improve the Public Safety Department — City Councilwoman Maureen Juip thanked Alcorn for “being willing to look forward and seek guidance and areas for growth.” Like her colleagues, she agreed that accreditation was a worthwhile pursuit.

“It’s a big job,” Alcorn said. “We’re excited about it.”