The Kansas Highway Patrol recently achieved a noteworthy milestone in its 81-year history. For the first time ever, the Patrol has become an accredited law enforcement agency.
On Tuesday, August 21st, the Kansas Highway Patrol was presented a Certificate of Accreditation from Tim Baysinger, Regional Program Manager from The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). CALEA is a private, non-profit organization whose commission is comprised of law enforcement professionals, as well as professionals from the private and public sector.
“This certificate is simply matted paper within a frame; but it has a much broader symbolic meaning. This certificate clearly represents the agency’s voluntary efforts to achieve accredited status, thereby demonstrating a willingness to embrace the necessary change to effectively address contemporary public safety concerns,” said Baysinger. “It represents a commitment to doing the right thing and to doing tasks the right way. It represents adherence to professionalism. Lastly, this certificate represents an ongoing dedication to ensuring the agency’s resources are appropriately developed, effectively deployed, and constantly managed; all in the name of a safer state for residents and visitors.”
The certificate presentation was the culmination of the Patrol’s efforts to earn accreditation status. The agency attained accreditation status in July, at CALEA’s annual conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Prior to achieving accreditation, representatives of the Patrol appeared before CALEA’s board to answer questions. On Saturday, July 28th, the Patrol was honored at the conference for their achievement.
“Becoming an accredited agency was a goal identified when I became Superintendent in 2015,” said Colonel Mark Bruce, Superintendent of the Patrol. “By becoming accredited, we enhance the services we provide to our law enforcement partners and, most importantly, to the public we are sworn to protect by adhering to what are referred to as the gold standards in policing.”
The Kansas Highway Patrol began the CALEA accreditation process in January of 2016. CALEA increases accountability within the agency and to the public the agency serves. Throughout the process, the agency had to address topics pertinent to law enforcement; hosted tours of facilities and equipment; and hosted a public comment session. In March, the agency underwent an extensive onsite assessment, conducted by professionally trained CALEA assessors to ensure compliance.
The process of becoming accredited through CALEA was a lengthy one, with many issues addressed and processes within the agency updated. A few of the things the Patrol addressed were: discussing recruitment practices associated with diversifying the agency; reviewed use of force and pursuit policies; updated evidence intake and control procedures; and addressed training needs for dispatchers and the agency’s law enforcement officers.
The Patrol completed what is normally a three-year endeavor in just under two years. “It has taken participation from all of our personnel, and much dedicated effort to earn this first-time accomplishment in the 81-year history of our agency. The KHP is one of only nine CALEA accredited agencies across Kansas, and the only state of Kansas-level agency to achieve this status,” said Bruce.
“Since its inception, CALEA has accredited over 1,000+ agencies under standards developed by many of the best public safety practitioners and leaders of our time. Gaining internationally accredited status is a distinction held by very few, as there are over 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States alone,” Baysinger said.
To gain accreditation, the Kansas Highway Patrol had to meet more than 180 state-of-the-art standards, which cover policy and procedure; administration; operations; and support services. This is an accomplishment less than five percent of all law enforcement agencies nationwide receive.
“I stand before you on behalf of the men and women of the Patrol to pledge our commitment to provide the best in law enforcement services to the citizens of Kansas. CALEA accreditation will help keep us on the path to ensure that happens,” Bruce said.
“It is important to note our work is not done now that we are accredited. This is the first step in an ongoing process. We will submit ourselves to random and routine compliance checks, annual audits, as well as onsite visits every few years by a team of independent outside CALEA-trained assessors,” said Bruce.
CALEA was created in 1979, when founding organizations, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), National Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives, National Sheriff’s Association, and the Police Executive Research Forum recognized a need within the law enforcement community to develop professional standards to enhance the delivery of law enforcement services to the citizens served throughout the nation. CALEA is the only internationally recognized public safety accrediting body in existence, serving Canada, Mexico, and Barbados, in addition to the United States.
The purpose of CALEA is to improve delivery of public safety by: maintaining a body of standards, developed by public safety practitioners, covering up-to-date public safety initiatives; establishing and administering an accreditation process; and recognizing professional excellence. There are five steps to the CALEA process, which include: Enrollment; Self-Assessment; On-Site Assessment; Commission Review and Decision; and Maintaining Compliance and Reaccreditation.