By HARRISON CANN — The city’s police department was recently put to the test — and it passed with flying colors.
The Hyattsville City Police Department (HCPD) was recently recommended for recertification by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), according to Lt. Chris Purvis, public information officer.
City administrator Tracey Nicholson said that the entire process was “extremely successful” and the two assessors from the commission were very impressed with the compliments the department received during a public forum. Purvis said the department has been accredited since 1999 and reaccreditation inspections occur every few years.
The assessors shared extremely positive comments about the employees with whom they met, interviewed and rode along with, emphasizing the professionalism, competency, dedication and pride they observed, according to the HCPD.
“It’s definitely a badge of honor,” Purvis said. “We had a very positive exit interview with the assessors.”
Police departments that are accredited receive better considerations with insurance rates and when applying for grants, Purvis said. Accredited departments also are required to have more policies regarding personnel assignments, among other things.
Nicholson said there is an assessment of the department’s operations, training, investigations, record keeping, evidence, and procedures. The assessment process includes verification of all logs and record books, as well as a comprehensive on-site inspection.
“When they come on site, they do an inspection of all of our records and police cars, they interview officers, and they verify that we’ve met the standards they’ve set,” Purvis said.
Another aspect of the evaluation is a public forum where citizens are able to speak on behalf of the police department. Nicholson said that citizens who spoke had nothing but praise for the department.
Purvis said the public forum was a breath of fresh air because rather than just friends and family of officers coming in to speak, there were business owners and regular citizens speaking positively about the department.
“About 10 to12 people came out and all of them spoke extremely highly of the department and its leadership,” Nicholson said. “[The officers] are all working hard to try to mitigate and reduce crime in and around the community.”
While recertification inspections are done every few years, police departments are required to do annual inspections internally. Nicholson said there are over 200 standards and 600 individual items that are inspected, and the HCPD had just two areas that required corrective action.
One of those is that HCPD missed conducting an annual inspection in early 2016. According to Nicholson, the department’s new electronic file management system will allow them to track progress and completion of compliance issues and inspections. She added that the other area for correction, which was a new policy on active threats, has already been documented.
Of the brighter spots on the evaluation, Nicholson said assessors were very impressed in the police department’s training process and their community outreach. “We have some very forward training programs such as non-bias training and sexual harassment training,” Nicholson said.
Nicholson said that residents were very excited about having a close relationship with police, and the department plans to continue its 21st Century Policing initiative, with updated equipment and more community outreach.
“We’re going to continue our community conversations, where several officers come out and mingle with residents,” Nicholson said. “It gives residents the chance to ask questions and get insight on what the police are doing.”
Hyattsville recently welcomed four new officers that graduated from the police academy. With more police officers on the force and a new headquarters on the way, the HCPD will address areas in need of correction and plans to continue to be an active participant in the community.
HCPD has one more step before reaccreditation is approved: Chief Douglas Holland and members of the department will attend a conference in Texas in March 2018, hosted by CALEA, along with several other police departments. The department representatives will go before the CALEA commissioners and answer questions about the report from the assessors. A final decision would then be made whether or not HCPD will be re-accredited.