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Police to hear comments on accreditation

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett police want to hear your thoughts on them.

The public is invited to weigh in Aug. 16 at an information session in Lawrenceville. The meeting is a required step in the Gwinnett County Police Department's quest to retain a highly prized national accreditation, thought to be a benchmark of public safety professionalism and excellence.

Participants in the Aug. 16 meeting must keep their remarks under five minutes, and they must address the department's ability to comply with Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies standards.

Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said the department has been CALEA certified since 1993, the longest-running streak of national accreditation in Gwinnett.

Beginning Aug. 14, a team of CALEA assessors will examine all aspects of the department.

The test is stringent. Gwinnett police must prove they comply with about 460 standards that cover every area of law enforcement -- from hiring policies to discharging weapons.

Comparatively, state-certified agencies must meet 118 standards outlined by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.

The assessment team is composed of public safety personnel from similar agencies outside of Georgia. Their review will included studies of written material, interviews with police and office visits.

Based on the team's observations, CALEA will later decide if the agency will be granted accreditation or not. Accreditation lasts three years. About 5 percent of police agencies in the United States have earned the designation.

Elsewhere in Gwinnett, only Norcross police have achieved national accreditation. Suwanee police are self-assessed and are prepping for a comparable certification, according to CALEA.

County police departments in metro Atlanta with comparable populations, such as Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton, are also certified.

The Aug. 16 public input meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Conference Room (Second Floor) at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville.

Opportunities to weigh in aren't limited to folks who can attend the meeting.

To provide comments to the assessment team by phone, call: 770-513-5881 between 2 and 4 p.m. on Aug. 16.

Or to write CALEA with comments about the Gwinnett County Police Department's ability to meet accreditation standards, address letters to: Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Inc., 13575 Heathcote Blvd., Suite 320, Gainesville, VA 20155.