Monday, December 14, 2009

TIME FLIES

TIME FLIES: We’ve been perhaps hyper-critical of Police Chief Darryl Perry’s administration and haven’t had many kind words for the local newspaper’s KPD-beat reporter Paul Curtis who’s served more like a stenographer for Perry’s PR efforts than a reporter.

But Curtis’ Sunday’s entry is almost as baffling as the amazing revelation regarding what most thought were the ongoing, concerted efforts focusing on one of Perry’s stated “top priorities” upon taking office.

After “burying the lede” with six paragraphs and 157 words evoking an image of the entire department scurrying for no-place-in-particular if “a terrorist attack, gas leak or act of nature” were to hit the new KPD headquarters, Curtis talks about the status of Perry’s accreditation efforts.

At the top of the list (of goals) is departmental accreditation, something Perry has been talking about since he became the county’s seventh police chief in October 2007.

Oh, good- let’s see where we are.

“It’s going to take years,” he said of the process. He is advocating appointment of a full-time accreditation manager to guide the department down the rigorous road to accreditation with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

That manager would also be responsible for attaining periodical re-accreditation, he said. KPD is the state’s only county police department lacking CALEA accreditation.

Well, we knew it was a long process. Apparently we are already at the stage where we need a manager for completing the process.

The appointing of the manager will need to happen as phase one of the department’s accreditation process begins, as he or she will liaison with CALEA, he said.

Huh? Phase 1? Begins? Yes folks, “as phase 1... begins”. Two years later we find out there have been approximately zero efforts toward accreditation and the chief is just now proposing to fund a full time position.

As Curtis then reports, now 11 paragraphs into his piece and five on the subject of accreditation:

Phase one includes contacting CALEA, assessing KPD, establishing a timeline for accreditation completion, and determining roadblocks and obstacles to successful accreditation, according to the single-page 2010 KPD goals list.

You’ve gotta be freakin’ kidding. Contacting them?

Let us be of assistance.

According to CALEA’s “Getting Started and Enrollment” section- which at least Curtis, if not Perry has apparently visited:

Agencies can obtain information, view/print fee schedules and required documents, or purchase any CALEA Publication, including the CALEA Accreditation Compliance Express (CACE) software, directly from the CALEA website or by contacting CALEA (800-368-3757).

We presume they have computers and telephones. Now they have the web site and number to call. And there’s a handy-dandy list of “suggestions... for agencies interested in finding out more about the Law Enforcement Accreditation Program”... two years late being better than never.

Purchase a copy of the Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies and carefully review and compare the CALEA Standards to your existing written directives. By doing this you should be able to determine: 1. what additions or changes will need to be made to policies and procedures; 2. how long this might take; and 3. what additional costs will be involved to include in budget.

Download the CALEA Accreditation Compliance Express (CACE) Help File. The CACE Program provides an agency with a powerful tool in completing the steps necessary to achieve accredited status and serves as a valuable assistant in the overall management of the accreditation process. Click here to begin the download process.

And maybe instead of sending commissioners to attending those mainland pep talks about how to fight against sick people receiving their medical marijuana they might just spend some money to send someone to:

Attend a CALEA Conference. Who should attend? Key council members; managers; mayor; law enforcement entity CEO; command staff; or designated accreditation manager. You will receive the training needed to begin the process and to successfully complete your accreditation goals; network with other public safety personnel and gain insight into the program; and consult with other CALEA Agencies for “flagship examples.”

Or they could just

Arrange to visit with a nearby CALEA Accredited Agency to view accreditation files and written directives.

Attend and/or join the local PAC (Police Accreditation Coalition), if available to you. This is another resource for information and accreditation process training. Click
here to check on a PAC in your area.

Among the goals of accreditation, according to the web site and Curtis’ article are to “establish fair and nondiscriminatory personnel practices”. Given the millions paid in attorney fees and awards in discrimination lawsuits over the years it seems incredible that we’re only now getting started on accreditation.

And given the state of community relations after the publication of “KPD Blue” perhaps another stated purpose of “increas(ing) community and staff confidence in the agency” accreditation might be demand a little more immediacy.

One of the first things a student learns in journalism school is “how to write a lead”- or lede in the written lingo. It’s supposed to be the most important “news” in your “story” in 25 words or less.

A real reporter might have written story with a lede that evoked a headline of “Chief’s says accreditation process still not begun”. The fact that Perry could depend on Curtis to cryptically bury the bad news- and try to portray it as “good news” in the middle of an otherwise ho-hum article- speaks volumes.

What Curtis is doing at a newspaper that has moved so far is so short a time with two real newspeople- Mike Levine and Nathan Eagle- in charge, combined with the news that the accreditation process hasn’t begun after two more years has us once again asking “can’t anyone here play this game?”