By STEPHANIE RAUHE
Capital News Service
LANSING – It is no secret that law enforcement doesn’t have a perfect record, but police departments across Michigan have been working to change the standards for their officers.
In the last several years, many departments have been going through the process of accreditation.
To obtain accreditation, local agencies must work with a state or national accreditation body to meet a series of rules and procedures.
An example is a use of force policy, which requires officers to de-escalate the amount of force they use proportionally on a resisting subject, as defined by the State Police.
Robert Stevenson, the executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, said that the association has been heavily involved in the accreditation process, with 63 local departments already accredited and 150 currently in the process.
Departments that were accredited in 2023 are in Clawson, East Lansing, Marshall, Royal Oak, Southgate, South Lyon, Walker and Wayne.
The Petoskey Police Department became accredited in 2022.
The department worked with the chiefs’ association to review its policies and update them where needed.
“Accredited agencies are seen as professional departments who care about their employees,” said Petoskey Public Safety Director Adrian Karr. “It shows that we are updating, reviewing and changing our policies to the best practices.”
The safety of employees is a big concern for departments, and accreditation plays a vital role in that priority. Because the profession is always changing, departments are continually reviewing and updating their policies.
“It’s important for the safety of your officers and the community,” Karr said. “We need accreditation for accountability and liability purposes.”
To begin the accreditation process, departments pay an initial fee, which begins at $1,500 and increases depending on their size. After completing the two-year process, each department pays an annual fee that is based on the number of full-time, sworn-in personnel.
While protests against police brutality and calls for police reform were raging outside, the chiefs’ association was internally working to ensure that departments were meeting the standards. Many departments in the state were already accredited or far along in the process.
“We have a duty to intervene as part of this,” Stevenson said. “We think it’s a very proactive way to elevate the profession.”