Not surprisingly, in the opinion of two law enforcement officers visiting the city this week, they didn’t hear anything negative about Warwick Police.
The two, who left yesterday, were here as the department goes though the process of re-accreditation. The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) accredits Warwick Police, and Ed Nestor and Marion Vandergrift arrived Sunday as part of a process to determine whether the department meets all 484 standards as an accredited department.
“A lot of work went into this and I give a lot of credit to our officers and our civilian employees,” Col. Stephen McCartney said yesterday afternoon.
He said Nestor and Vandergrift held a 45-minute exit debriefing at which they identified an issue with the evidence collection policy as the singular biggest matter requiring correction.
“We were able to make a change to that policy and correct the deficiency,” McCartney said.
This is McCartney’s fifth accreditation visit since the department first sought CALEA accreditation in 1997, and he is relieved to have it behind him.
Nestor, who has conducted assessments of other departments, said he rarely hears comments critical of a department, although that shouldn’t be taken as an indication there isn’t room for improvement. There have been two occasions where the public can critique the department. The first opportunity came Monday when the public was urged to make non-recorded calls to the appraisers. They got about five calls during the session.
The second chance came Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. at the Police Community Room. Again, there wasn’t much of a turnout. Among those speaking were Mayor Scott Avedisian, Councilwoman Donna Travis and Councilman Raymond Gallucci. Also speaking were Cranston Chief Marco Palombo and Christine Crockers of the Rhode Island State Police.
“Integrity, consistency, professionalism and collaboration” Vandergrift said were some of the words used in describing the department. Vandergrift is a member of the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation and, like her counterpart Nestor, is using time off from her regular job to work as a CALEA appraiser. Nestor is a captain in the Chesterfield, Mo. Police Department.
“Overwhelmingly, it’s been positive,” Nestor said of the feedback he is getting.
In addition to giving the public an opportunity to speak about the department, the appraisers have met with community leaders in different community sectors to get a picture. Nestor was scheduled to do a ride-along yesterday.
On Tuesday two hours were set aside for public comment, but everything was over within 45 minutes.
“I am sure that the assessment team is used to having elected officials come before them to tell the wonderful stories of the number of incidents responded to, the number of arrests and convictions, the rate of crime in communities. And, of course, I am no different. All of those facts and figures tell a story of the Warwick Police Department – a story of integrity, commitment, dedication and a heartfelt desire to serve our community,” Avedisian said in opening remarks.
The mayor left a list of awards and distinctions won by the department and its members individually. The heart of his comments focused on the human side of the department and their interaction with residents.
“What we do not talk about as much is the very real human impact that our officers have on the nearly 85,000 people who reside in our beloved community and the personal connection they make with our citizens each and every day.
“In the 12 and a half years that I have been mayor, I have administered the oath of office to 85 members of our police department – more than half of the members. I mention that because it is not just a job. The men and women of our police department make the protection and preservation of our quality of life their top and only priority,” he said.
McCartney said the report prepared by Nestor and Vandergrift now goes to the commission, which is expected to meet in late October or early November. McCartney said he would appear before the commission and that a vote is expected at that time.
Accreditation is for a three-year period.