August 28, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria Police Department seeks accreditation

Elyria police officers leave a home on Hollywood Drive after searching for a suspect in September. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Elyria police officers leave a home on Hollywood Drive after searching for a suspect in September. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Despite facing manpower shortages, the Elyria police chief wants to begin an extensive and time-consuming accreditation program with the end goal of turning “a good department into a premier department.”

The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies has accredited just 7 percent of law enforcement agencies in the United States, but Police Chief Duane Whitely said Elyria needs to go through the three-year process now if it’s going to become a better department. He said it’s not wise to wait until the city has the right number of officers.

On Tuesday night, while introducing the CALEA process to City Council, he addressed concerns that accreditation could take officers away from policing in the city.

“My only concern is Elyria is low on staffing,” said Councilman Jack Baird, R-at large. “I’m concerned officers will not be doing something because they are doing this instead.”

Whitely said he shares the same concern. He has contemplated pushing for accreditation for 10 years — long before became the department’s chief.

“We have been waiting for the right time to do this, but there is never going to be a right time,” he said. “We have to do this now if we want to stop standing in our own way of becoming the department we need to be.”

With the addition of four new hires earlier this year, the number of officers on the force is 80.

Whitely has pegged police Sgt. Bill Lantz with the responsibility for the accreditation, and the veteran officer sees it as the next step for the department.

“Accreditation is difficult to have, but great once you do,” he said.

There are 482 standards for achieving advanced accreditation. They touch on every aspect of law enforcement from operational policies and officer training to organization and technical services. There are 48 accredited agencies in Ohio including Toledo, Mansfield, Dublin, Newark and Shaker Heights.

During the next three years, the department will enroll in the commission for an initial fee of $10,100 as well as purchase coordinating software for another $10,650. The self-assessment phase, which calls for the department to look at how it measures up to each standard and develops a plan for meeting them, will run until roughly August 2015. A CALEA representative will then conduct an on-site assessment of the department and issue its finding.

After all the work, Whitely said accreditation will be a feather in the department’s cap. He said he has heard from other police departments that they received more grants after receiving accreditation and faced fewer lawsuits.

Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka said the city will receive a slight discount on its liability insurance if it attains accreditation.

And, if anything, Mayor Holly Brinda said the department will just learn through self-evaluation how to be more efficient and effective.

“I applaud them for seeing this out and adopting a spirit of self-improvement,” she said. “They are committed to getting it done and becoming a premier department and that is something my administration fully supports.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.

  • bROWNS77

    What is the “total cost” for this feather in your hat?
    Didn’t the city just say they are broke and have to lay off people?
    lmao.

  • Mark B

    What is the Cost compared to Bennifit. Spell it out , what exactly will we gain for the money spent ? WIll it improve the qualikty of life in Elyria? , or is this just another feather in each officers hat that is going to cost the taxpayer at every future election to provide them with more wages to pay for the feathers !

    • Joe Smith

      qualikty? Sounds like a Popeye word ! LOL

  • Razorback Twou

    Why don’t they just work on being better policemen?

  • Dairy Queen

    A better Department or a better “run” Department?

  • Bill

    Well if everyone would read the article is explains some of the benefits and will make it a much better department which in turn should make for a safer city.
    Hats of to the EPD for going this route.

  • Dairy Queen

    The article says some of the “possible” benefits are grants and less lawsuits. Lawsuits has nothing to do with manpower or the running the Department. Doesn’t sound like anything is guaranteed so lets deal with the current not the fantasy, of course that is if the accreditation is acheived.

    • Bill

      Other departments receiving more grants because of the accreditation is hardly fantasy.
      I swear some people will complain about everything and in the same breath say the police are not doing enough…..

  • Peter Aldrich

    Yes, there is a cost, but sometimes spending a little is worth the expense….

  • SweetScarlet

    “Despite facing manpower shortages, the Elyria police chief wants to begin an extensive and time-consuming accreditation program with the end goal of turning “a good department into a premier department.” KUDOS TO YOU CHIEF WHITELY!! And good on ya for EPD. I think this is great. Always strive for better!

  • Dairy Queen

    Bill, I only stated what was in the article as you so remarked earlier. The accreditation doesn’t make the Department run any better that is done by current administration and they sure have been in their seats long enough to have some sort of plan in effect rather than a plan 3 years down the road. “Fantasy” as you were so offended is like a lottery ticket you purchase in “hopes” of getting a prize, sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t. Grants are applied for and awarded on need and best qualified for the Grant but are not a guarantee.