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Accreditation review starts this week for GFPD

The Grand Forks Police Department is making the home stretch toward accreditation today, something that was originally set into motion by former Police Chief John Packett.

An independent, two-person team from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies will be conducting a four-day review of the department starting today. The commission is the only international accreditation agency for law enforcement bodies and sets the standards similarly to how other accrediting agencies set the bar for schools, universities and hospitals.

If the commission grants the Police Department accreditation, it would be the first time, said Lt. Jeff Burgess. It has been a goal ever since Packett turned the department’s attention toward it in 2011, said Burgess.

Within the state, only the North Dakota Highway Patrol and the Bismarck Police Department have obtained CALEA accreditation, Burgess said.

Though accreditation would not necessarily increase the funding police receive, it would “ensure our policy manual is consistent with those across the country,” he said.

To become accredited, the department must comply with all of CALEA’s mandatory standards and with at least 80 percent of the non-mandatory standards. Larry Schultz, one of the two assessors visiting Grand Forks and retired chief of police from South Beloit, Ill., said that there are slightly more than 470 standards all developed by public safety practitioners across the country.

The review process consists of ride-alongs with officers and interviews with personnel, officers and community leaders, Burgess said. The two assessors — Schultz and Kerry Jackson, retired Captain with the Alameda County (Calif.) Sheriff’s Office — will also hold a public meeting to allow people to comment on the Police Department’s performance. The meeting will take place 6 p.m. Monday in the Meadowlark Room at the Alerus Center, 1200 S. 42nd St.

“We certainly encourage anyone that has something to say about our agency, good or bad, to come on out,” said Burgess.

The public is also invited to make comments regarding the department’s compliance with CALEA standards by calling (701) 787-8032 between 1 and 3 p.m. Tuesday or by emailing with a subject line of “Grand Forks (ND) P.D. On-Site.”

The assessors will compile a report, which the commission will review in about a month before deciding whether to grant accreditation.