Frequently Asked Questions
The NYS Law Enforcement Accreditation Program provides formal recognition that an agency meets or exceeds general expectations of quality in the field. The program has four principal goals:
- To increase the effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement agencies utilizing existing personnel, equipment and facilities to the extent possible;
- To promote increased cooperation and coordination among law enforcement agencies and other agencies of the criminal justice system;
- To ensure the appropriate training of law enforcement personnel; and
- To promote public confidence in law enforcement.
In essence, accreditation acknowledges the implementation of policies that are conceptually sound and operationally effective. The cornerstone of the Accreditation Program lies in established standards that contain a clear statement of professional requirements. Agencies participating in the program conduct a thorough analysis of their organization to determine how existing operations can be adapted to meet established standards. When an agency adopts policies and procedures that meet the standards, a team of independent professionals conducts an on-site assessment to verify that all applicable standards have been successfully implemented. This process culminates with a decision by the NYS Law Enforcement Accreditation Council that the agency is worthy of accreditation.
The Accreditation Council consists of 17 members appointed by the Governor. The Council meets quarterly and adopts standards, sets policy and has exclusive authority to grant accreditation to law enforcement agencies. The Council also provides guidance for the overall direction of the program. Members include representatives from the state chiefs' and sheriffs' associations, the Superintendent of State Police, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department, an official of a statewide police labor organization, an incumbent police officer, a deputy sheriff and a college professor of criminal justice. Other members represent the Association of Counties, the Association of Towns, the Conference of Mayors, the New York State Senate, and the Assembly.
Part 6035 of Title 9 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York tasks the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services with the day-to-day administration of the program. Personnel within the Division's Office of Public Safety serve as the staff arm of the Council, provide technical support to participating agencies, and oversee all aspects of daily administration. More »
Any full-time or part-time law enforcement agency employing a police officer, as defined in paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (j), (k), (l), (o), (p) and (s) in section 1.20 of the NYS Criminal Procedure Law.
There is no application fee and all materials are provided at no cost. Associated costs to participate in the program could include salaries of personnel assigned to work on the project, however this would not represent new costs to the agency. Other expenses could include non-personal service costs to purchase supplies and equipment needed for the program, such as file cabinets and copiers. These expenses have been minimal according to agencies who have completed the process.
The New York State Law Enforcement Accreditation Program enables administrators to strengthen existing procedures while simultaneously creating a solid foundation for the agency's future. The benefits of accreditation include:
- Independent confirmation that policies comply with professional standards
- Assurance of fair recruitment, selection and promotion processes
- Diminished vulnerability to civil law suits and costly settlements
- Enhanced understanding by agency personnel of agency policies and procedures
- Greater administrative and operational effectiveness
- Greater public confidence in the agency
In the final analysis, the impact of the Accreditation Program stems from the profound commitment that New York law enforcement executives have made to professionalism and from their desire to provide the best possible services to the communities that they serve.
Officials who wish to participate in the Accreditation Program must submit an Application. The enabling legislation specifies that applications must be signed by both the agency's chief law enforcement officer, and by the municipality's chief elected officer or a representative of the local governing body. The chief or sheriff will also be asked to sign an Agency Participation Agreement which specifies the mutual responsibilities of the agency and Accreditation Council. The Application and Agency Participation Agreement form is available on-line in the Publications and Forms section.
The Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) provides support to agencies that are participating in the Accreditation Program. The following resources are available at no cost.
Participating agencies receive copies of the program Standards and Compliance Verification Manual and the Program Implementation Guide. The Standards and Compliance Verification Manual contains all of the program standards and offers guidelines that agencies may use when deciding how to demonstrate that they have met all requirements. The Implementation Guide provides an overview of the accreditation process and outlines requirements step-by-step. The manuals and forms are available on-line in the Publications and Forms section.
Experienced program staff provides assistance upon request and agencies are encouraged to call whenever there are questions. Staff can help interpret the standards and offer valuable insight on how other agencies approached various situations. In addition, the staff is available to review draft procedures to determine compliance and discuss ways in which a department's unique circumstances might affect the way in which a given standard should be implemented.
Agency personnel often wish to speak directly with officials who have completed the accreditation process. Program Managers and chief law enforcement officers are encouraged to network with other agencies that have completed the process and DCJS will provide contact information upon request. Additionally, many of these agencies will provide copies of their policy and procedures manuals as a reference for agency personnel in the drafting their own policies. The availability of the aforementioned resources and assistance has made the attainment of accreditation easier. Agency personnel have the ability to reach out to experienced program staff of almost 150 agencies that have achieved accreditation. The willingness and enthusiasm of these professionals to provide assistance and guidance are due to a shared vision of improving law enforcement in New York State.
The Office of Public Safety also provides training for agency program managers. This training focuses on the day-today tasks leading to accreditation and incorporates the most useful insights acquired since the program became operational.
This is dependent upon the agency and is determined by three main factors:
- How much time and effort an agency is willing to dedicate to getting the job done;
- How many policies and procedures have to be written to meet the standards; and
- If the agency has policies already in place, how many need revisions to meet the standards.
For those agencies who have allotted the appropriate time and put forth a reasonable effort, it has taken anywhere from three to eighteen months to get accredited.
Participating agencies are expected to implement all program standards. However, local laws and collective bargaining agreements are binding in nature and take precedence over program standards. In rare instances, a waiver by the Council may be obtained if an agency is unable to meet a standard. more »
The NYS Law Enforcement Accreditation Council has exclusive authority to grant accreditation to law enforcement agencies. Accreditation is granted for a period of five years. To continue in the program, chief executive officers must advise OPS of their wish to be reaccredited by submitting a new application near the end of their five-year period of accreditation. The submission of this application will start the agency on the road to reaccreditation.
Agency officials notify the Office of Public Safety when they believe that all program requirements have been successfully met. OPS then selects a team of experienced law enforcement practitioners who conduct a three day on-site assessment of the agency to verify that it qualifies for accreditation. Verification includes the review of policies and procedures and supporting documentation related to the Accreditation Standards.
The assessment team leader prepares a detailed report of the team's findings and forwards it to the Office of Public Safety. A copy of this report is then sent to the NYS Law Enforcement Accreditation Council for review and action at its next scheduled meeting. more »
The assessors can be either active or retired, but they must experience working directly on the accreditation program. They must submit an application through a “Request for Applications” that is released about every five years. All program assessors must be approved by the Council and are required to complete a training course for new assessors before their first assignment.
The Office of Public Safety staff is responsible for assessor assignments. Three individuals will be selected to serve on each assessment team, one as a team leader and the other two as assessors. Every effort is made to ensure that none of the team members live or work in the same immediate geographic area as the agency being assessed; that the assessment team has an appropriate professional balance; and that there are no conflicts of interest that could affect objectivity. Agencies are provided with a list of the assessors prior to their assessment and given the opportunity to ask that any assessor be disqualified with cause.