Saturday, August 3, 2013

TRI-ARC Award: What It Means To Me

Today, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department reached an important milestone in its long history of growth and organizational development, and I am very proud to be a part of it. We received an honor shared by only 10 other law enforcement agencies in the world* – the CALEA “TRI-ARC” Award.

Let me explain what this means, and why it’s important.
Many professions rely on accreditation systems to help them assure quality and establish industry-wide best practices. Schools and colleges seek accreditation, so do hospitals, engineering firms and information technology providers, to name just a few among many.

Law enforcement is no exception. Like other cutting-edge professions, we use the accreditation process to help us grow and develop, so we can provide better service to our clients: the citizens. The best source of guidance and the highest set of standards in the world are provided by the Commission on the Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, otherwise known as CALEA.

CALEA offers three separate and distinct types of accreditation.  One is for law enforcement agencies, another is for public safety training academies and a third is for public safety communications.

The first step for us was completed 2007, when we received our law enforcement agency accreditation, and again when we were re-accredited in 2010.  In 2012 we went further, and our police academy earned its public safety training accreditation.  Now, in 2013, we have completed the third and final element as our 911 call and dispatch division becomes an accredited public safety communications center. 

Only agencies that earn and maintain all three types of accreditation get the honor of being TRI-ARC winners. Our membership in that club becomes official today.

This is a big deal.  It means our citizens can be confident that we are following the best standards and practices available in the law enforcement industry.  It means we have faced and will continue to face the kind of rigorous, independent assessment of policies and practices that comes with accreditation.  It means we are committed to a process of ongoing improvements, professional evolution and organizational development.  It means we are in the business of saying what we mean and meaning what we say.

For us that meaning is reflected in visible symbols like TRI-ARC award and the CALEA emblems that decorate our police cars. 

I hope citizens can see the same meaning in the service we provide, and the work we do on a daily basis.
Congratulations SLMPD. I’m proud of you, achieving and maintaining this status is no easy task.

* I’m also proud to note that one of the other 10 TRI-ARC award-winning agencies is the St. Louis County Police Department. Hat tip to my friends, Chief Tim Fitch and retired Chief Jerry Lee. You beat us to the finish line by a couple years, but it's really the St. Louis region that wins.

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