A national accreditation the New Albany Police Department recently earned from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies is a promise of sorts to the community that the department will seek continual improvement, according to Chief Greg Jones.

CALEA was created in 1979, and the organization's accreditation program seals are awarded to public-safety agencies that have demonstrated compliance with its standards, according to its website.

Daniel Shaw, a regional program manager with CALEA, said 66 agencies in Ohio have been awarded accreditation. Locally, other accredited agencies include the Columbus Division of Police, the Dublin Police Department, the Grove City Division of Police, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Ohio State University Department of Public Safety, the Powell Police Department and the Upper Arlington Police Division.

Jones said the New Albany Police Department went through a three-year process to receive accreditation.

The work included self-assessment and a CALEA assessment that included a site visit by organization representatives, Jones said. The organization's commission then had to vote to approve the accreditation, he said.

City spokesman Scott McAfee said initial cost to the city for accreditation was about $3,000. In 2020, it is projected to cost $4,600, and costs typically would be less than $5,000 annually, he said.

Now that the department has received accreditation, over the next four years, CALEA will review compliance with its standards, Jones said. In late 2023, it will determine whether the department should be reaccredited, he said.

Each year until 2023, CALEA will evaluate 25% of its 155 standards to make sure the department is in compliance, he said.

Because New Albany and its police department are committed to providing residents with top-level services, leaders believed meeting national standards was important, Jones said.

"The department has always strived to improve," he said.

Accreditation included an across-the-board evaluation to be in line with nationwide best practices, Jones said.

Training is an example of an area the department was able to improve as a result of that process, he said. Department staff members realized they needed to improve lesson plans for police training and make sure to create clear goals and documentation, he said.

As a result of the accreditation, the department must complete a number of reports, analyses and evaluations on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis, Jones said. That practice will keep the department accountable and will provide data to help it improve, he said.

Mayor Sloan Spalding said he is proud of the police department and staff members working to gain CALEA certification, widely known as the gold standard for public-safety programs.

"CALEA certification not only provides a baseline of current operations, but a true blueprint to be followed for our chief of police and city manager," Spalding said. "The citizens of New Albany truly value our police force and the valuable public service that (it provides), and CALEA certification is further affirmation of the department's good work."

Shaw said CALEA has 1,146 agencies enrolled in its four accreditation programs in Barbados, Canada, Mexico and the United States. Of those, 931 are accredited, with the remainder seeking their first award, he said.

He said 1,061 U.S. agencies are enrolled, with 881 accredited; 73 in Ohio are enrolled, with 66 accredited.