Police Chief Ken Plaga spoke to what the accreditation certificate means for the Meridian Township community:
The Meridian Township Police Department accepted a certificate of accreditation award from the Michigan Law Enforcement Accreditation Program.
The certificate added Meridian Township’s police department to a list of 24 police departments throughout Michigan that have already received accreditation.
The MTPD has now voluntarily accomplished what 95% of the other 588 law enforcement agencies in the state have not done at this particular time, said Robert Stevenson, executive director of MACP.
The MTPD also became the first PD in Mid-Michigan to receive accreditation, making them the first to accomplish this in the Tri-County area of Ingham, Eaton and Clinton.
Surrounded by excellence
“It’s something that I know our people here at the township and police department worked really hard at,” said Ronald J. Styka, supervisor of Meridian Township board.
Stevenson said the accreditation program is something that a lot of police departments would like to attain, but a lot of police departments are down on staff and don’t have the ability to devote the time to do it.
“It’s time-intensive, and you need to have a talented person to do it,” Stevenson said.
However, by going through the accreditation process, they’ve become an even better police department, Stevenson said.
“I think that sometimes when you’re surrounded by excellence, you don’t recognize how great that excellence truly is,” Stevenson said. “I will tell you I’ve been around the state of Michigan, and I’ve seen a lot of police departments, and you have an excellent police department.”
The beginning steps
“The reason that we did it is because we want to follow best practices,” said Ken Plaga, police chief.
In early February 2019, the Meridian Township board voted unanimously to support the MTPD’s hearing to voluntarily adopt the standards of the MLEAP and begin the year-long process.
“This is a great community that we live in, and we want to make sure that we maintain our level of service,” Plaga said.
To maintain the level of service, the MTPD invited the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police to visit Meridian Township and observe how they operate in their department.
The MACP manual states, “The MACP is a progressive association that helps law enforcement agencies calculate and improve their overall performances.”
These improvements are developed through the use of the voluntary Law Enforcement Accreditation Program in Michigan and an appointed accreditation manager within the department.
The next step
Meridian Township Lieutenant Rick Grillo said that before heading to the commission for the final time, they had to make sure all of their ducks were in a row.
“Once we get our standards and we feel like we’re finished, we let them know at the commission, and they send out two assessors to our department,” Grillo said. “They stay here for a couple of days, looking through all of our standards, going through the building and all of our facilities.”
The assessors came in December 2019, and the final commission hearing was held on Feb. 6, 2020 to review the final report and vote on accrediting the agency.
The Onsite Final Report states that after a thorough review of the files for compliance conducted, it was determined that the MTPD is in compliance with all of the established accreditation standards.
Showing what they know
Director of Accreditation Neal Rossow said the police departments are also responsible for showing proof they are able to perform the listed tasks provided in the standard guidelines.
“We have 105 standards that are state and national best practices, and the organization has to take those 105 standards, and they have to create written directives that meet the standards,” Rossow said.
Rossow also said they have to create “proofs” to show outsiders they are following the written directives that follow the standards.
Founded in 1924, the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police is now governed by a 19-member Board of Directors, representing all geographical areas within the state.
“We have two outsiders come in that are trained by the commission, and they go through all of their files, their 105 files, and make sure that they’re doing what they say they’re doing,” said Stevenson.
Some of the material covered within the programs’ standards are: recruitment of sworn personnel, personal benefits and responsibilities, public information and use of force.
“The impact of the community is that they should be certain that their police department is doing things at best standards,” Plaga said.