Benefits of police accreditation

JOSEPH POLISAR, Garden Grove’s police chief from 1998 to 2011 (City of GG photo).

Editor’s note: The following was sent to members of the Garden Grove City Council, the city manager  and the Orange County Tribune from former Garden Grove Police Chief Joseph Polisar.

As a former Chief of Police of the Garden Grove Police Department (1998-2011) I feel compelled to share some thoughts with you at this time in our nation. As some of you know I was hired in June 1998 by former City Manager George Tindall, with approval of then Mayor Bruce Broadwater and the rest of the Garden Grove City Council. At the time there were over 300 municipal police chiefs in California, but only about five of them had come from out of state.

When I decided to compete for the Chief’s job here in Garden Grove several things helped me make that decision. First was the reputation of the Garden Grove Police Department. Next was the quality of life and sense of community that is Garden Grove. But there was something else that helped me decide to accept the job when it was offered. The Garden Grove Police Department was accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA https://www.calea.org/about-us).

You see I spent 21 years with the Albuquerque, New Mexico Police Department retiring in 1997 just before hiring on in Garden Grove. The Albuquerque PD was the first police department in New Mexico to seek and be awarded accreditation through CALEA in 1987 and remained accredited through my tenure with the department. So the fact that the Garden Grove PD was accredited was a real draw for me. Ironically, Garden Grove PD was the first municipal police department in California to receive accreditation through CALEA in 1988.

There are numerous benefits to being accredited through CALEA. But I knew that it was a process that forced me to constantly review my policies, procedures and training and subject my agency to a comprehensive review by outside assessors every three years for proofs of compliance with all the standards. I’ve heard chiefs ask citizens “Would you send your kid to a university that wasn’t accredited? Would you go to a hospital that wasn’t accredited?”

A little history about CALE and what purpose it serves.

The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®), was created in 1979 as a credentialing authority through the joint efforts of law enforcement’s major executive associations:

  • International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
  • National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE)
  • National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA)
  • Police Executive Research Forum (PERF)

The purpose of CALEA is to improve the delivery of public safety services by maintaining a body of professional standards that support the administration of accreditation programs.

CALEA Accreditation succeeds through:

  • Agency Leadership
    • Serves as a resource management tool
    • Establishes trusted processes and best practices
    • Provides a planning framework
    • Encourages organizational growth and improvement
  • Agency Personnel
    • Ensures contemporary equipment and training
    • Promotes sound operational decisions
    • Establishes supportive personnel practices
  • The Community
    • Fosters community awareness
    • Creates organizational transparency
    • Promotes open dialogue and information-sharing

The Garden Grove Police Department has been accredited continuously since 1988 affirming its’ commitment to the citizens of Garden Grove to always stay abreast of the latest policies, procedures and training the profession has to offer. CALEA standards are the Gold Standard of the law enforcement profession.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t commend Chief Tom Daré and all the men and women of the Garden Grove Police Department for the professional way in which they handled the protests in Garden Grove last week that involved some 4,000 people. No arrests, no property damage, just a peaceful protest by citizens voicing their concerns. Bravo.

In closing I would point out that the Garden Grove Police Department is up for review by CALEA this year for proof of compliance with CALEA standards. I encourage you to talk to Chief Daré about this process and stay involved. Accreditation is not an easy thing to achieve. It is comprehensive, time consuming and requires a commitment from not just the Chief, but all of the elected officials.

The citizens of Garden Grove are in good hands. You should be proud of the men and women of the Garden Grove Police Department. I certainly am.

Joseph Polisar


2 replies »

  1. Thank you Chief Polisar for maintaining the fine foundation of accreditation through CALEA during your tenure. Our GG cops are tops because of the rigors of this certification program. We who have participated in the Citizens Academy are truly impressed with the dedication and professionalism of our city’s Police Department.

  2. I spoke at that accreditation hearing on behalf of GGPD in 1988 and every one since because our first rate police department deserves the credit and not the humiliation of a bunch of organized youngsters who claimed to be frightened of our officers.

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