Community policing, or community-oriented policing, is a strategy of policing that focuses on building ties and working closely with members of the communities. The main idea is to create trust and partnership between police and the public.

We’ve adopted this philosophy here in Norcross. Efforts like the recently completed 30 days of birthday drive-ups for our citizens shut-in during this coronavirus has a positive vibe in complementing community policing.

In addition to community policing, it is my belief that the implementation of continual training, peer review and accountability are the keys to minimizing abuse of power within our law enforcement ranks. This is best achieved through state certification and national accreditation through CALEA. The Norcross Police department has been accredited for several years and is currently working toward re-accreditation.

There are only 46 law enforcement agencies in Georgia that have achieved CALEA Law Enforcement Accreditation. (There are 1,181 total law enforcement agencies in the state.)

CALEA programs internationally accredit more than 1,100 agencies. CALEA was created in 1979, and the organization’s accreditation program seals are awarded to public safety agencies that have demonstrated compliance with its standards. The Commission was created through the combined efforts of four major law enforcement organizations: The International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, National Sheriffs’ Association, and the Police Executive Research Forum.

This accreditation does not come easy as our agency must go through a rigorous review and evaluation of their organization and then implement the necessary policy and procedure changes. The process does not stop at that point. By choosing to seek CALEA accreditation, the agency commits to an ongoing review of adherence to CALEA’s standards. Each community with CALEA-accredited agencies should feel confident that their public safety organization is going above and beyond and operating under the highest standards in public safety.

This accreditation validates that the City of Norcross police adheres to strict policy and best practices. “CALEA accreditation sends a clear message to our community that our department is following national standards and best practices.” It supports our commitment to the community in providing the highest quality police services. Each year CALEA evaluates 25% of its 484 standards to make sure the department is in compliance. Random citizen review of police performance is also a part of this certification process providing needed checks and balances.

I am proud of the work of our Norcross Police Department in being recognized and awarded CALEA accreditation for past certifications. I believe it speaks volumes to the dedication, professionalism and hard work of our law enforcement team. The citizens of Norcross truly value our police force and the respected public service that they provide.

Specifically, CALEA’s goals are to strengthen crime prevention and control capabilities, formalize essential management procedures, establish fair and nondiscriminatory personnel practices, improve service delivery, solidify interagency cooperation and coordination, and increase community and staff confidence in the agency.

As a side note, I am truly troubled in having to add George Floyd’s name alongside that of Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and many others who have died over the years at the hands of the police — as well as Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin who were killed by armed members of the public.

Procedures across our nation must change, prevention systems must be put in place, Federal accreditation must be required and above all, rogue police officers who abuse their sworn oath to protect and defend should be charged and convicted for the crimes committed without prejudice or respect of persons. Only then will trust in our system of justice be restored.

I have and will always say that violence begets violence. I strongly condemn the rioting and the looting from protests that we have recently seen. These acts are socially destructive and self-defeating, and must be condemned by all.

But at the same time, it is necessary to condemn the weapons of oppression, social injustice and inequality that have plagued our nation and fueled protests in our great nation for years. Change is possible when we instill institutional processes that guarantee equal treatment throughout all our judicial systems across this nation.

We must embrace processes of change that undergird the promise of the nation’s founders that all men are created equal and endowed inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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Craig Newton is the mayor of Norcross.

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