Olentangy Valley News

Assessment of Powell police finds little wrong

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Powell police Chief Gary Vest said the accreditation process is like getting a physical.

"First of all, if there's anything wrong, you definitely want to know," he said.

Luckily for the Powell Police Department, assessors with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies found little wrong after its examination. The group awarded the department Advanced Accreditation with Excellence late last month.

Vest said current law-enforcement officers conducted the assessment of the department over three days in November 2013. The officers examined department files, policies and procedures, and conducted interviews with officers and community members.

The assessors then filed a report with the commission, recommending the Powell Police Department receive the highest accreditation.

"The Powell Police Department is a full-service law-enforcement agency that clearly demonstrates its competency at core responsibilities and its commitment to the community it serves," the report stated.

Vest said the accreditation is a voluntary process for police departments. He said the evaluation is valuable because it prevents the department from becoming too insular, adding that it brings in outside help to conduct an objective review.

For instance, Vest said community members might have a hard time telling him face to face that they had a complaint about the department.

Vest said he was pleased that the assessors' interviews with community members also found few complaints.

"It was a positive area for us," he said. "Generally, people believe our officers are approachable. We try to give warnings to get people to change their behavior without reaching into their pocketbooks."

Vest said the accreditation process reminds departments to keep their procedures current, whether they involve strategies for confronting active shooters or rules regarding holding cells.

He said sometimes the best policies come from other departments that have been sued in the past and needed to make changes.

"We learn the good and the bad from our neighbors," he said. "There's no point in repeating a past mistake."

Vest said the department goes through the accreditation process every three years. The department first earned its accreditation in 2002.

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