By Victor O'Brien
Killeen Daily Herald
The Killeen Police Department is six weeks from an inspection that will decide if Killeen's finest are on the same level with other U.S. and international police agencies.
KPD has been working for the past three years to prepare for an inspection from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), an internationally recognized accreditation organization that started in 1984.
The effort to become accredited has taken three years, countless hours of reorganizing and rewriting policies, which will be evaluated when an inspection team visits Killeen in December. The team will check to see if KPD meets about 450 standards, said Capt. Lee Caufield, who oversees CALEA for KPD.
The project has been such an immense undertaking that KPD's initial goal of having its on-site inspection was delayed from June to Dec. 6-10 in order to give Caufield and the department more time to prepare.
A mock inspection team visited KPD earlier this year and set a timeframe in December for KPD to be ready for the real inspection. Barring any changes or delays, inspectors will be in Killeen for four days to inspect the department inside and out.
CALEA requires the department to have policies in place for anything from processing arrests to VIP security, but individual departments choose how to implement those policies, Caufield said.
Caufield said the CALEA process has been about "changing a culture" within KPD. The change has occurred by reorganizing the department's polices in accordance with CALEA's standards and then developing systems to make sure those standards are being met.
During the past six months, Caufield has worked to develop proofs to show inspectors that KPD doesn't just have the standards in place, but actually follows them in their everyday practices.
"We've completely redone our policy system. What we have today is nothing like what we had a few years ago," Caufield said.
The Austin Police Department became accredited with CALEA in 2000. The Austin PD had to redo its policies to become accredited, said Sgt. David Ortiz, who oversees the department's accreditation processes.
Ortiz said the process does not end with accreditation. After being certified, a department can take about a two-month break before beginning the process all over again to pass inspection again three years later.
Caufield expects that constant change and revisiting of police policies will happen because law enforcement isn't a static operation.
"A policy should be a living document; it should change as your needs change," he said.
The Temple Police Department pulled out of CALEA in 2008 after joining in 1999 because of the time and the costs of membership and salaries associated with the group.
Sgt. Allen Teston said in January that Temple spent $4,313 for membership and between $250,000 and $300,000 on salaries of people who dedicated hours to the process. Ortiz said he did not have an exact estimate of how much it costs the Austin PD, but said the program has been worth any costs.
Ortiz said CALEA gave Austin PD a "template" – based on international law enforcement trends – to design their policies to increase professionalism and better prepare the department for liability lawsuits, which can cost a department hundreds of thousand of dollars, if not millions, depending on the situation.
When KPD lays outs all its vehicles, equipment and policies and opens its doors to the inspection team on Dec. 6, Caufield will see the results of his work over the past three years.
"I feel like I'm buying a new house, getting married and having a baby all on the same day," he joked. "We've never done this. I make and everybody makes some presumptions that what we've done is in the right direction. ... Until it's all over, you won't know."
If KPD passes inspection and becomes accredited, the process will begin again a few months later in preparation for reaccreditation in 2011.
Contact Victor O'Brien at email@example.com or (254) 501-7468.