Baton Rouge Police Dept. re-accredited for sixth time

For the sixth time, the Baton Rouge Police Department has been accredited by a national law enforcement organization that bills itself the “gold standard in public safety.”

The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies reviewed the department’s policies and procedures this summer and again gave its coveted stamp of approval, East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden said at a news conference Monday.

“Accreditation has become woven into the fabric of the agency,” wrote D. Thomas Anderson, the leader of the commission’s assessment team, in a report.

The voluntary accreditation is among the most sought-after credentials in law enforcement and is achieved by only a fraction of agencies.

“It just makes us above and beyond what most police departments in this country achieve,” Police Chief Carl Dabadie said.

A review of the department — in which the assessment team checked for 481 standards — marked the department’s best performance since it was first accredited in 1996, Holden said, noting that, unlike previous evaluations, no corrective action was requested.

The department was previously re-accredited in 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010.

“When Chief Dabadie took over as chief, we had some concern over whether we would meet the requirements in the past three-year cycle,” Holden said. “It was the quick action he took as provisional chief and the hard work of his accreditation team that earned the Baton Rouge Police Department this continuing honor.”

To be re-accredited, law enforcement agencies must show documented compliance with the standards. Accreditation is renewed every three years after a lengthy process that culminates in a hearing before the commission.

Dabadie said the effort is worth it because, aside from being a badge of honor, accreditation leads to greater accountability, reduces the risk of liability and strengthens the departments’s defense in civil lawsuits.

Like other law enforcement agencies, Anderson’s report said, the Police Department “is laboring under the fiscal reality that has been common throughout the country in the recent past.”

“The result has been a reduction in force of over 30 sworn positions and approximately 25 civilian support positions,” the report said. “The agency is just now beginning to progress toward normal staffing levels.”

The report also found agency morale has been high throughout the first months of Dabadie’s tenure. Dabadie was sworn into office on the heels of Holden firing former Chief Dewayne White for insubordination and a number of departmental policy violations.

“The agency weathered a period of political strife in which three CEOs served the agency in the past two years,” the report said. “It is apparent agency personnel views that which laybehind as less important than that which lies ahead.”