Panel reviewing department

Public comments sought in police accreditation process

A public meeting is set Monday for residents to comment on the Lafayette Police Department as part of the agency’s efforts to achieve national accreditation.

The meeting is required as part of a years-long accreditation process under which the department must show compliance with a set of national law enforcement standards that address everything from training and record keeping to evidence processing and traffic patrols.

The accreditation process generally takes about three years.

“We are crossing over the two-year mark,” Lafayette police spokesman Cpl. Paul Mouton said.

The accreditation is administered by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office obtained the accreditation in 2003. The Police Department had begun the accreditation process in the 1980s but never followed through.

“Adhering to nationally recognized and accepted standards in law enforcement causes us to routinely examine our internal policies and procedures to make certain we are employing the very best and latest practices in providing quality police services to our citizens,” Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said in a written statement.

An assessment team from the accreditation group is scheduled to be in Lafayette next week to review the Police Department.

As part of that review, the team will take public comments beginning at 2 p.m. on Monday at the main city-parish government offices at 705 West University Ave.

Residents may also call (337) 291-5800 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday to give comments over the phone.

The public comments should address the Police Department’s ability to comply with national policing standards, Mouton said.

There are 467 separate accreditation standards covering policies and procedures, management, operations and support services.

The assessment team that will be in town next week is made up of public safety officials from other states, according to information from Lafayette Police Capt. Morgan Green, who is helping to oversee the accreditation process for the department.

That team will report its findings back to the full accreditation commission, which will make the ultimate decision on whether to grant accreditation status to the Police Department, Green said.