Bryan's Police Department is seeking an honor only three percent of North American law enforcement agencies have attained. The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies is in town to decide if Bryan PD deserves to be mentioned among the elite.
Only around 600 of 18,000 law enforcement agencies on the continent have accreditation from CALEA. It is considered the gold standard for law enforcement, and provides not only liability for a department, but also, in their minds, generates trust.
"It should provide a better sense of assurance to the public that we are adhering and meeting a set of standards that are internationally recognized," said Assistant Chief Pete Scheets with BPD.
"This is the only way that an agency can compare itself to agencies from throughout the country to assess their ability to deliver services to the public," said Tom Clark, one of the commission representatives in town to review Bryan.
Representatives are looking at the department from top to bottom, including interviews with personnel and ride-alongs through the community.
The accreditation process is a long one. The application was sent in by BPD in May 2004, followed by a major internal review and report.
"We have been doing that for about two years, looking at all the systems in the department from top to bottom, looking at how current the procedures are, updating the policies," Scheets said. "In the long run, it's been very good for the department."
But while police officials believe the process improved their department, the accreditation would be the ultimate icing on the cake. Monday provided a chance for citizens to voice their views on the department, reviews that were overwhelmingly glowing. Fellow and former law enforcers, community leaders and residents lauded the department and its representatives, telling stories of their interaction and their mission.
"I'm proud to say we can always count on Bryan PD to be there to assist as needed," said University Police Chief Elmer Schneider, who touted BPD's help on big events like football games and presidential visits.
"I just think they are doing a good job," said Municipal Court Judge Latham Boone, who regularly sees police presence at his hearings. "They're very professional in their demeanor."
"Your changes have not gone unseen, for we can see the transformation," said Ann Boney from the local NAACP branch," speaking of BPD's efforts to unite a diverse Bryan community. "And your steadfastness has not been overlooked."
"One of the things that struck me tonight was the sincerity from most of the speakers, that they were quite sincere in their praises for the agency," said Clark. He and his colleagues will compile all their findings and prepare a 40-50 page report for the commission, based in Fairfax County, Virginia.
Bryan PD should hear back from CALEA in November.
College Station Police have had accreditation from CALEA since the early 90s. They are one of 22 agencies in Texas accredited by CALEA. In fact, the communications division is being looked at by the group currently to be sure they qualify for reaccreditation.
CSPD officials say they provided guidance to their Bryan counterparts during their application and review.
If you would like to provide written comments to the commission, you can mail them to the following address:
Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies
10302 Eaton Place, Suite 100
Fairfax, VA 22030-2201