The Burbank Police Department has embarked on a multiyear quest to achieve accreditation from an independent agency established by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The process through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies is in addition to the internal strategic plan and policy reviews already taking place. If successful, officials say the accreditation would be a major step in helping the Police Department make peace with a past scarred by ongoing discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits and allegations of excessive use of force.
Police Lt. Armen Dermenjian, who was appointed by Interim Police Chief Scott LaChasse to lead the project, said getting certified by the commission would also go a long way to restoring public confidence.
“It’s one thing for us to say we have best practices, it’s another to be able to prove that,” Dermenjian said. “Not just for the community, but members of the organization, to have confidence that what we do is in line with the best practices of the industry.”
Oversight of the Police Department by Michael Gennaco — who heads the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review, which provides civilian oversight of the sheriff’s department — is a more specific mission than achieving accreditation through the national commission, said Deputy Chief Tom Angel.
The accreditation process will “fill in the gap” where the current internal reviews — spurred by excessive-use-of-force probes by the FBI and L.A. County Sheriff’s Department — don’t touch.
Police will review 480 accreditation standards and compare to their current policies and practices.
“Once we go through the 480 standards, we will have looked at the entire organization,” he said. “That’s an enormous task, and that’s the value of CALEA [accreditation] — it forces agencies to review all of their policies and practices.”
One example would be reviewing a copy of a predeployment inspection log to show that police are indeed inspecting patrol cars before going out in the field. The process also includes site visits by representatives from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
Accreditation generally takes three years, but Burbank would like to complete the process by December 2013, setting the stage for certification by March 2014, according to a report to the City Council.
“It takes time, not only to evaluate current policies and procedures but also in providing proof for those standards,” Dermenjian said.
The annual estimated cost to maintain accreditation is $5,000.
The $22,000 awarded by the City Council last year will cover the cost of applying and the first three years of accreditation, Angel said.