In recent weeks, conversations on law enforcement accreditation have increased among municipal and state law enforcement leaders. For example, Massachusetts is promoting a bill that develops a Police Officer Standards and Accreditation Committee that will create unified requirements on officer certification and misconduct. In Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine is encouraging more agencies to pursue law enforcement accreditation, and in Virginia, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police outlined positive reforms for police departments which includes Virginia agencies to achieve either state or national accreditation.
But what is law enforcement accreditation?
In our post, Accreditation 101: The Benefits of State and National Police Accreditation, we shared that law enforcement accreditation is a self-initiated, voluntary process and is based on standards which are reflective of best practices in law enforcement.
Agencies can become nationally accredited through The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc (CALEA), or receive accreditation through a state program. Whether an agency becomes accredited through CALEA or a state program, the accreditation process requires an in-depth review of an agency’s organization, management, operations and administration – often known as standards.
What are accreditation standards?
Accreditation standards increase an agency’s credibility and provide performance norms against agency processes and procedures. These standards cover roles and responsibilities; relationships with other agencies; organization, management and administration; law enforcement operations, operational support and traffic law enforcement; detainee and court-related services; and auxiliary and technical services.
What is an early intervention system’s role in law enforcement accreditation?
CALEA Standards Chapter 35 emphasizes that a law enforcement agency must be able to depend on the satisfactory work performance of each employee, and this includes having a standardized performance evaluation as well as a personnel early intervention system.
CALEA Standard 31.1.9 specifically states “If an agency has an EIS, a written directive establishes a Personnel Early Intervention System to identify agency employees who may require agency intervention efforts. The directive shall include: a. definitions of employee behaviors or actions to be included for review; b. threshold or trigger levels to initiate a review of employee actions or behavior; c. a review of identified employees, based on current patterns of collected material, that is approved by the agency CEO or designee; d. agency reporting requirements of conduct and behavior; e. documented annual evaluation of the system; f. the responsibility of supervisors; g. remedial action; and h. some type of employee assistance such as a formal employee assistance Program, peer counseling, etc.”
Additionally, as part of CALEA’s standard on EIS, the National Police Foundation shares that “the failure of the agency to develop a comprehensive system can lead to the erosion of public confidence in the agency’s ability to investigate itself, while putting the public and agency employees in greater risk of danger.”
State accreditation programs design standards that capture both CALEA-recognized and state-specific best practices for law enforcement agencies. For example, The Arizona Law Enforcement Accreditation Program (ALEAP) Chapter 16 contains standards on performance evaluations and includes standards on annual performance evaluations, as well as probationary employees. The Illinois Law Enforcement Accreditation Program (ILEAP) has two accreditation tiers for departments, but both contain standards regarding officer performance. Therefore, whether a department is seeking national or state accreditation, it is important for agencies to have an EIS in place that provides a framework for establishing review processes, as well as delivers accurate officer data, in order to meet performance accreditation standards.
What early intervention system (EIS) is required to meet accreditation standards?
Not all EIS are the same.
For example, threshold-based EIS systems rely on basic activity thresholds, so that when an officer reaches an arbitrary threshold, the officer is flagged for an investigation. The problem with these types of systems is that they aren’t reliable for identifying a real problem that requires intervention; in fact, based on academic research, threshold-based systems result in:
- 30% false negative rate – which means the officers who need an intervention are missed completely and continue to be at risk for an adverse event
- 70% false positive rate – which means non-problematic officers are flagged in the standard course of policing, contributing to a decrease in officer morale and an increasing administrative burden
(Source: Early Intervention Systems: Predicting Adverse Interactions Between Police and the Public)
As a result, a threshold system does not necessarily help agencies accurately review officer performance, in order to meet accreditation standards, and provide them the intervention and training plans when needed. Instead, a data-driven early intervention system, like First Sign® Early Intervention, analyzes cumulative officer data on an ongoing basis and allows supervisors to review and compare data for individual officers, units and even watches. This allows supervisors to make recommendations for exceptional performance deserving of recognition or assign intervention actions for concerning behavior.
Research shows there are over 25 indicators that impact an officer’s performance, and fall in four conceptual groups: Event, Organization, Officer, and External/Wellness. As an example, Event information includes: missed court appearances; officer-involved injuries; commendations received; officer training; and community engagement work. Agencies using First Sign work with Benchmark’s data science team to conduct a detailed data exercise which allows each agency to identify the most valuable, accessible, and relevant indicators for their department. Each indicator is then broken into subdomains and analyzed.
The result is having a data-driven EIS in place that serves as a predictive model that identifies patterns of problematic behavior and patterns of exceptional conduct — thus, providing the information agencies need to successfully meet officer performance accreditation standards.
What are next steps?
To learn more about the importance of a data-driven early intervention system, watch our presentation from the 2019 International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference on “What Every Police Chief Needs to Understand about Early Intervention/Warning Systems.”
To learn more about First Sign from a Benchmark representative, fill out the form here.