By Anastasia Marchese
The world is constantly changing and the way that government officials and police officers interface with the community due to these changes needs at times to be analyzed and addressed.
That is one of the reasons why Chester Borough Chief of Police David Jara decided to seek accreditation for his department through the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police.
Back in Sept./Oct. of 2014, Jara initiated the accreditation process. It usually takes a police department around two years to go through the steps required. The Chester Borough Department focused in on what needed to be done and completed it quickly. Due to their hard work and effort they were able to finish the evaluations and reviews in February of this year.
In May of this year, the department was officially recognized for this accomplishment during a Council Meeting.
Departments going through the accreditation process “usually have one person devoted to it,” said Jara and Sargent Kristen Cebo was the officer spearheading the process for the Chester Borough Department.
When asked why Jara sought out the accreditation he responded that he wanted to “make sure we are following the best practices for police. Some of our policies and procedures were outdated.” He said that there were policies that had not been revised since the 1990’s and it was time to reevaluate exactly how the department was handling situations.
“It is more clearcut now on how we should operate,” he said. “Every officer knows what to report and what channels we are supposed to go through.”
The Chester Borough Police department received a grant of $50,000 to make this possible, through the Morris County Municipal Joint Insurance Fund. The accreditation process is organized by the Rodgers Group which works in conjunction with the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police to organize and manage the accreditation of New Jersey Police Departments. According to the organization’s website, “The New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police (NJSACOP) is a professional membership organization serving New Jersey’s law enforcement and private security executives.” It also describes the organization’s mission as “firmly centered on helping members and their personnel achieve their potential – both as professionals and people.”
There are a set of 105 standards that the departments need to follow in order to reach full compliance. The departments have evidence audits as well as personnel reviews by an oversight committee to determine if the standards are being implemented. Chester Borough only had one clerical error sited on their report, a sign that the department is accurately and fully implementing these new procedures.
The accreditation needs to be reassessed every three years. The evaluations are done by a team of retired police chiefs and the department needs to keep a certain number of proofs to be checked.
According to the NJSACOP website, “Accredited status represents a significant professional achievement. Accreditation acknowledges the implementation of policies and procedures that are conceptually sound and operationally effective.”
When a town has an accredited police force it can benefit the town in a number of ways. Accredited departments may qualify for insurance cost reductions, due to the extra training and planning that it requires.
Chief of Police David Jara, Sargent Kristen Cebo, and the entire Chester Borough Police force are to be saluted.