The Kingsport Police Department is currently one of over 900 agencies that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). Agencies that become accredited by CALEA, have demonstrated a consistent commitment to the idea of continual improvement which results in the strengthening of overall performance and improves our level of professionalism.
CALEA was developed in 1979 by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, The Police Executive Research Forum, The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the National Sheriff’s Association. This conglomeration developed a credentialing program that includes a set of professional standards, a process by which participating agencies could be assessed against those standards, and also a system by which participating agencies could be recognized for their individual level of compliance. CALEA is the only internationally recognized public safety accrediting body.
Beginning in 1992 the Kingsport Police Department earned its status as one of Tennessee’s first agencies to become accredited by CALEA. Since that initial award, we have maintained our accredited status with CALEA by earning five additional reaccreditation awards the most recent of which came on March 28, 2011. As such, the Kingsport Police Department proudly serves our community and acts as a benchmark for other agencies.
Accreditation: What it Means
In 1979 the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies was formed through the combined efforts of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), the National Sheriffs 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.
The accreditation process involves a comprehensive agency self-assessment of the 439 standards. The standards address nine major law enforcement subjects:
(1) Role, responsibilities, and relationships with other agencies;
(2) organization, management, and administration;
(3) personnel structure;
(4) personnel process;
(5) law enforcement operations;
(6) operational support;
(7) traffic law enforcement;
(8) prisoner and court related services; and
(9) auxiliary and technical services.
Accreditation provides the police service with a proven management system of written directives, sound training, clearly-defined lines of authority, and routine reports that support decision-making and resource allocation.
This program provides an objective evidence of our commitment to excellence in leadership, resource management and service delivery. Accreditation embodies the precepts of community-oriented policing. It creates a forum in which police and citizens work together to prevent and control challenges confronting law enforcement and provides clear direction about community expectations.
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 take pride in their police service, knowing it represents the very best in law enforcement.
James F. Keesling was named Chief of the Kingsport (TN) Police Department (KPD) in 1986 after retiring from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation as Assistant Director. He obtained his BS in Criminal Justice Administration from East Tennessee State University. Chief Keesling is a graduate of the 96th Session of the FBI National Academy and was a member of the CALEA Task Force that developed the 4th Edition Standards Manual. Keesling retired from the Kingsport PD in August 1999.
In 1986, James F. Keesling was the newly appointed Chief of Kingsport Police Department and was faced with several tough issues that had to be addressed immediately:
- The community wanted improved police service.
- The Police Department was without a policy and procedures manual.
- The Part I Crime Clearance rate was 19%.
- Computer technology for managing crime issues was non-existent.
- New construction of a Justice Center was in the architectural stage.
- The agency was starting CALEA accreditation.
As the department initiated its effort toward accreditation, high liability areas such as use of force, pursuit, etc., were easily addressed through the guidance offered by accreditation standards. However, as areas related to crime fighting came to our attention, there was a bit of uncertainty. Developing policy and procedures for such areas as crime reporting, case management, information analysis, and organizational management was of concern since any manual reporting system would soon be transitioned to computer reporting. However, as Kingsport Police Department progressed, the accreditation process became somewhat of a road map to our needs in computer technology.
After seeing the details of the CALEA Standards Manual, it became obvious that a high-quality computer system was going to be required in order for us to become one of the best police departments. The integration of accreditation standards with technology works like this: standard 42.1.3 requires a written directive establishing a case file management system for criminal investigation functions that includes case status, administrative designation, guides on records to be maintained, access to files, and purging procedures. As one develops those written procedures, the focus turns to carrying out the procedure in the easiest and most efficient manner. Obviously, computer technology provides case information and efficiency.
The written directive essentially creates specifications for computer software that will carry out those functions. Technology integration is but one example of the benefits of the accreditation process.
As is the case in most of the standards, meeting a standard promotes research, broad thinking, and attention to detail. Consequently, great ideas are borne to accomplish the object of the standard. The accreditation process gives a department the opportunity to share new ideas as well as traditional methods with other departments. This also allowed our department to obtain new ideas about technological advancements and how they could be utilized to meet CALEA standards. Therefore, our department stays on the cutting edge of good customer service for the citizenry it serves.
Accreditation has greatly assisted the Kingsport Police Department in accomplishing its' goal of becoming one of the best police departments by assisting us in all areas, not just technology. The Kingsport Police Department has completed many of our objectives in a timely and efficient manner due to the guidelines set forth by CALEA.
The self-assessment phase of accreditation pointed out many areas, where the Kingsport Police Department needed to improve, particularly our policy and procedures manual. To be blunt, in 1986 the Kingsport Police Department did not have a policy manual. CALEA standards set out a "road map"' that showed the way we needed to go to improve our police services to the City of Kingsport. This may not sound like a technological advancement; but it moved us into the modem era of law enforcement. Our new General Orders and Standard Operating Procedures Manuals have greatly improved our operations. This improvement can best be seen in our crime clearance rate. In 1987, we had a Part I Crime clearance rate of 19%. In 1998, our clearance rate had improved to 56%.
All of the improvements that the Kingsport Police Department has made in the accreditation process have been with one singular goal in mind - to improve our service to the Citizens of Kingsport, Tennessee. This has been accomplished in a resounding manner. Many of our recruiting and selection methods and our training procedures have been based on CALEA standards. These standards have led to our department's hiring of very capable and educated personnel.
Our department aggressively seeks ways to prevent crime and takes pride in accomplishing its job in a professional, yet, courteous manner. This was reflected at our last public hearing for our reaccreditation assessment. So many citizens came to the hearing that the time limit expired before everyone could be heard by the assessors.
The CALEA process works for the police department, the municipal government, and most important of all, for the citizens of Kingsport, Tennessee.