Lafayette Police Department wins national accreditation

The Lafayette Police Department has been awarded national accreditation following a two-year effort to bring policies in line with more than 450 law enforcement standards, Police Chief Jim Craft announced Tuesday.

Lafayette’s department is one of only six agencies in Louisiana to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

“It sends a strong message to the community that we are a professional agency that is going to adhere to nationally recognized best practices in police work,” Craft said.

The department began the accreditation process in 2010, and an assessment team from CALEA visited the city in November to review policies and procedures to ensure they were in line with the organization’s standards.

Craft described the accreditation process as “an intensive examination of every aspect of every operation in your department.”

He said adhering to national policing standards could improve the work of officers and help the agency avoid lawsuits.

“It makes the service you provide more professional,” Craft said.

The chief said the national recognition also could improve the image of the department in areas of the city where some residents might be wary at the sight of police.

Lafayette had sought accreditation in the 1980s but backed out of the process when there was a change in the city’s administration, Craft said.

The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office obtained accreditation in 2003, and Craft has said that he set accreditation for the city’s Police Department as a priority when he was appointed as police chief in 2007.

Agencies in Louisiana that have achieved CALEA law enforcement accreditation are the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Baton Rouge Police Department, the Slidell Police Department, the West Monroe Police Department and the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Agencies must be re-accredited every three years.