With the achievement of PLEAC Accreditation, the Somerset Borough Police earn the right to display the seal of an accredited law enforcement agency.
“WE ARE WHAT WE REPEATEDLY DO…
” The Somerset Borough Police Department has been pursuing accreditation by the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission (PLEAC) for a number of years. The PLEAC accreditation process involves showing that the department’s policies comply with the PLEAC Standards and then showing proof that the officers comply with those policies. It sounds simple enough, but the process is an extremely work-intensive one.
There are 135 PLEAC Standards that cover facets of the department’s operation from the wording in the officers’ oath to the procedures relating to vehicle pursuits, use of force, detention of prisoners, storage of evidence, etc. Virtually every aspect of the operation of the department and the actions of the officers are addressed. Further, many of the standards have subsections, so that in order to attain accredited status the department must show its compliance in 310 different areas. While beginning in 2005, a new, PLEAC-compliant Policy and Procedure Manual was introduced as well as the introduction of forms and procedures that demonstrated compliance with PLEAC standards, it was only after the department re-occupied its newly renovated quarters that accreditation became attainable. Prior to that, the state and condition of the former station was always an insurmountable impediment to gaining accreditation.
Once the department became housed in its new quarters in the Public Safety Building the Accreditation Team, Chief Randy Cox and OICs Richard Appel, Philip Staib and Stephen Borosky set about the task of collecting proofs of compliance with the PLEAC standards. Proofs are reports, completed forms, photographs and other items that prove that the officers and members of the department follow the PLEAC compliant policies of the department; in other words, showing that we practice what we preach. There must be two proofs offered for each standard.
In January 2010, a mock Assessment Team came to the department and reviewed the accreditation files and made recommendations for modifications and/or file repairs. These recommendations were then implemented and the department was ready for the PLEAC Onsite Assessment. This occurred on March 11 and 12, 2010. The PLEAC Onsite Assessment Team then made recommendation to the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission that the Somerset Borough Police Department be granted full accreditation. On March 31, 2010, the Commission voted unanimously to approve the Team’s recommendation and the department became accredited for a term of three years, beginning March 12, 2010. In order to retain its accredited status, the department must undergo a re-accreditation assessment by a PLEAC Onsite Assessment Team every three years.
So, what has been accomplished? Tangible benefits of accreditation include eligibility for reduced professional liability insurance rates of up to 20%. Of course, there is a certain amount of prestige in achieving accreditation; there are more than 1,200 police departments in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and less than seventy of them are accredited. It is significant to note that out of those seventy there are only seven, including Somerset Borough Police, in the western region of the state.
However, what is most important about becoming accredited is the affirmation that we are doing our best to meet our mission in the serviceand protection of the Somerset community. Whether as an individual or an organization, you can tell yourself and believe that you are doing a good job, but it is not until you are willing to expose your methods and practices to an outside, objective critique that you may really be sure. This is what the accreditation process has done for the Somerset Borough Police Department. Additionally, we have committed to a standard of excellence.
Perhaps it may all be summed up in the words of Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Therefore, excellence is not an act, but a habit.”
| l-r Mayor William Meyer, PLEAC Commission Member
Michael Mastroianni, Chief Randy Cox
|Mayor Meyer, Chief Cox, Councilman Fred Rosemyer
presenting Council's proclamation