Lt. Susan Cokerscoker@knoxvilletn.gov
The Knoxville Police Department and the department's Law Enforcement Training Academy are both accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA).
CALEA was formed in 1979 through the combined efforts of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). The commission was formed for two reasons: To develop a set of law enforcement standards, and to establish and administer an accreditation process through which law enforcement agencies could demonstrate voluntarily that they meet professionally recognized criteria for excellence in management and service delivery.
CALEA has established three accreditation programs – law enforcement, communications, and public safety training academy.
The law enforcement accreditation process involves a comprehensive self-assessment by the department of the standards. The standards address six major law enforcement areas: (1) role, responsibilities and relationships with other agencies; (2) organization, management and administration; (3) personnel administration; (4) law enforcement operations, operational support and traffic; (5) prisoner and court related services; and (6) auxiliary and technical services.
The first CALEA Communication Accreditation Award was granted in 1999, and the program has since become the primary method for a communications agency to voluntarily demonstrate its commitment to excellence. The standards upon which the communications accreditation program is based reflect the current thinking and experience of public safety communications executives and accreditation experts. APCO International (Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International, Inc.), the leading communications membership association, was a partner in the development of CALEA’s accreditation program. This relationship continues today as APCO recognizes the achievements of CALEA Accredited Public Safety Communications agencies and supports accreditation.
The communications program provides a communications center, or the communications unit of a public safety agency, with a process to systemically review and internally assess its operations and procedures. The communications standards are organized into seven areas: (1) organization; (2) direction and supervision; (3) human resources; (4) recruitment, selection, and promotion; (5) training; (6) operations; and (7) critical incidents, special operations, and homeland security.
CALEA’s Public Safety Training Academy Accreditation Program began in 2002. Its purpose is to promote superior public safety training services and recognize professional excellence. The program’s standards are derived from the best practices of professional public safety training academies, and do not conflict with any organizations that are recognized training authorities. The program’s standards cover nine topic areas: (1) credentialing; (2) organization; (3) direction and authority; (4) human resources; (5) recruitment, selection, employment, and promotion; (6) instructional systems; (7) training administration; (8) instructors; and (9) students.
After undergoing self-assessment, an on-site assessment is completed by a team of trained independent assessors. These CALEA assessors verify the department’s compliance with standards by reviewing documented proofs of compliance and interviewing operations and management personnel. A public hearing is also held to elicit citizens’ comments. Accreditation periods are three years in duration. During this time the department must maintain compliance with the standards and must submit annual reports attesting to this fact. Reaccreditation occurs at the end of this period, pending another successful on-site assessment and hearing before the commission. Beginning November 2015, CALEA has transitioned to a four year assessment cycle with annual reviews by a CALEA Compliance Officer.
The Knoxville Police Department completed the initial accreditation process in November 1992, and has been re-accredited successfully in November 1997, December 2000, November 2003, and again in November 2006. The department received its sixth accreditation award in November 2009, as well as being selected as a CALEA Flagship agency during the 2009 assessment for demonstrated success in the accreditation process. The police department was also the recipient of CALEA’s Meritorious Award for achieving 15 continuous years of CALEA accreditation. In November 2012 the police department received Gold Standard Advanced Accreditation with Excellence and again in November 2015.
Through the accreditation process, the Knoxville Police Department maintains external independent verification of its policing excellence. The Knox County Emergency Communications District received its communications accreditation award in November 2002. The District has since received subsequent awards, most recently its fifth award in March 2015.
In December 2004, the Knoxville Police Department's Law Enforcement Training Academy received its initial award for CALEA's Public Safety Training Academy Accreditation program. The police department's training academy led the way as the first training academy that is part of a parent law enforcement agency to be nationally accredited. With the accreditation of the training academy, CALEA presented the City of Knoxville with the TRI-ARC Excellence Award for having successfully completed the three accreditation programs. The Law Enforcement Training Academy received its second accreditation award in November 2007 and its third award in November 2010. With its third award, the training academy was also recognized by CALEA as a Flagship Agency. This was the first time that a training academy and its parent law enforcement agency have both been selected as Flagship Agencies during the same accreditation assessment period. The training academy was last awarded accreditation in November 2013.
The Knoxville Police Department is very involved in accreditation on a national level. There are currently two members of the department who are CALEA certified assessors. These officers have the opportunity to assess other agencies around the country on behalf of CALEA. Members of the department also participate on CALEA committees designed to review standards and improve the accreditation process.
The department is also accredited through the Tennessee Law Enforcement Accreditation (TLEA) program, sponsored by the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police. The police department first received TLEA accreditation in March 2011 and received its second state award in March 2014.
Accreditation is a coveted award that symbolizes professionalism, excellence, and competence. It requires written directives and training to inform employees about policies and practices; facilities and equipment to ensure employees’ safety; and processes to safeguard employees’ rights. Employees of the Knoxville Police Department take pride in their police service, knowing it represents the very best in law enforcement.