Bridgewater Police Named Accredited Agency
The accreditation comes after a several-year process.
The Bridgewater Township Police Department has officially been recognized as an Accredited Police Agency after a lengthy application process.
The department received its accreditation, officially, Feb. 14 through the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police and The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
“This was one of my original goals to obtain when I was first sworn in as chief in 2006,” said Bridgewater Township Police Chief Richard Borden. “My reaction is essentially one of great pride that the police department as a whole united for one common objective.”
“For me personally, it is the satisfaction of establishing a level to achieve and seeing it through to fruition,” he added.
Borden said that the accreditation certifies that the agency has met all of the required professional standards determined by an outside organization.
“It also solidifies your belief in what your police department has been doing over the years, which is the ‘right thing,’” he said. “I think from the officers' and supervisors' points of view, the accreditation reiterates the work they have been doing has now been recognized in an official manner.”
The achievement comes at the end of three years of preparation from the department, including the designated accreditation manager, former Bridgewater Township Police Sgt. Stephen Jurczak.
Borden said he gives Jurczak full credit for making this work.
“His last working day was in fact the final day of our onsite final assessment,” he said. “A true testament to his commitment to the cause.”
In order to become an accredited agency, the department had to comply with 112 professional standards mandated by the Accreditation Board of Review, which includes an assessment of the physical facility.
That, Borden said, was one of the things that stopped the department when it first worked on accreditation.
“We actually began the process in 2007, but had to postpone the procedure due to our move to our new headquarters in 2009,” he said. “The old building would not have met various standards, and the time dedicated to the move and planning a new facility was far too consuming.”
Once they moved to the new building, Borden said, they picked up the process once again.
"The painstaking process of sorting through hundreds of policies, some old and outdated, began,” he said. “This was associated with developing ‘proofs’ for each of the 112 professional standards set by the accreditation organization, as well as assessing the main facility issues mandated by the accreditation committee.”
With the two full years of preparation required, Borden said, it was important that all members of the department were involved in the process.
“If the agency personnel are not committed to and involved with the program, accreditation is doomed to fail,” he said.
The final on-site evaluation for the accreditation was held Nov. 18 and Nov. 19, while two trained assessors stayed at the police department for two days and conducted the assessment. They interviewed officers and supervisors, inspected the facility and reviewed policies.
According to a release from the police department, accreditation can also limit an agency’s liability and risk exposure by demonstrating that standards recognized internationally have been met. It also strengthens an agency’s accountability, the release said.
“Chief Richard Borden and the entire police department are to be congratulated for their comprehensive effort in achieving accreditation,” Mayor Dan Hayes said in the release. “This accomplishment is representative of the professionalism and dedication demonstrated by the entire police force on a daily basis and the recognition by the accreditation commission is a milestone in the history of the department.”
Borden said this is the first time the Bridgewater Township Police Department has been deemed an accredited police agency. They will keep the accreditation for three years before they have to reapply.
“The future is to continue to meet and improve on these standards and the new guidelines set forth by the association,” he said. “In three years, the standards will definitely change to a degree, and our department will have to meet the new criteria set forth to become reaccredited.”
But Borden said he is very proud that the department has achieved this status, and all the work put in by the officers.
“I take the most pride in the fact that our police officers, supervisors and civilian employees cooperated fully and understood why I felt this was important for our department to obtain,” he said. “Everyone in their own individual way contributed something for our department to achieve accreditation. It was a true team effort.”