Fair Lawn residents and merchants are invited to give their opinion of the borough police department as part of a process known as accreditation.
Members of the department are encouraged to call, as well, during the scheduled phone-in period: Monday, March 4, between 9 – 11 a.m.
Telephone comments are limited to 5 minutes and “must address the agency’s ability to comply with the accreditation standards,” according to Fair Lawn Police Sgt. Richard Schultz.
However, you can also write to the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission at 11,000 Lincoln Drive West, Suite 12, Marlton, N.J. 08053
A team of assessors sent by the commission early next month will examine “all aspects of the Fair Lawn Police Department’s policies and procedures, management, operations, and support services” as part of the process, Fair Lawn Police Chief Eric Rose said this morning.
The review team, made up of law enforcement officers, “review written materials, interview agency members, and visit offices and other places where compliance with the standards can be observed,” said Harry J. Delgado, the program manager.
They will then report to the commmission, which determines whether to grant accreditation — a distinction that, among other things, helps reduce liability insurance and assures that they are meeting the highest standards of operation.
Those who favor accreditation say it’s one thing to have guidelines, but another to have them sanctioned by an authority such as the state police chiefs association.
“Verification by the team that the Fair Lawn Police Department meets the Commission’s ‘best practice’ standards is part of a voluntary process to achieve accreditation, a highly prized recognition of law enforcement professional excellence,” Rose said.
“Accreditation results in greater accountability within the agency, reduced risk and liability exposure, stronger defense against civil lawsuits, increased community advocacy, and more confidence in the agency’s ability to operate efficiently and respond to community needs,” the chief said.
Although it hasn’t been proven to directly improve police response time, reduce crime, or cut costs to taxpayers, accreditation does send a message that a department is committed to professionalism — the same as colleges and other institutions do.
For instance, the department must meet standards for prisoner transfers, how petty cash is handled, and the process for evidence chain-of-custody. Those are just some of the 112 standards departments must comply with in order to be accredited.
Accreditation is valid for a three-year period, during which the agency must submit annual reports.
The initial accreditation fee is $5,000. The department is also required to pay a re-accreditation fee of $1,500 every three years.
MORE INFO: Fair Lawn PD Lt. Ronald Paterson (201-794-5416), [email protected]