Windsor Police Department working toward accreditation
Published 5:49 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2024
Windsor Police Department is making progress in its journey toward earning state accreditation.
It was announced in September 2023 that Windsor had reached a written settlement with Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares to resolve a lawsuit alleging an “unlawful pattern” of conduct by the WPD.
The 11-page court order, which Judge H. Thomas Padrick signed on Sept. 7, required the WPD to obtain accreditation from the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission, which Miyares described as the “gold standard in policing” in a news release.
Windsor Police Chief Rodney “Dan” Riddle shared details in a Wednesday, Jan. 10, interview regarding what steps are involved on the path to accreditation and where the WPD was in the process.
SUMMARY OF THE ACCREDITATION PROCESS
Riddle noted that an agency seeking accreditation needs to review its existing policies and make changes as appropriate, aiming to have all its policies in alignment with accreditation standards.
“You make all the changes in the agency, you set all those up,” he said. “Then you go through, you assess yourself, then you do another mock assessment.
“Then you have the commission come in,” he continued. “They send their assessors in, who are not your people, and they go through everything, and they look at all your policies, make sure your policies hit all the accreditation points, and they look at all your proofs to make sure that you are indeed doing what (you say) you’re doing.”
He explained what proofs are and what the process of gathering them is like.
He noted that when an agency writes policies, they have to be established policies.
“They have to meet all the accreditation standards,” he said. “And then you have to demonstrate that the department does actually use those policies. So you have to prove that, ‘Hey, our policy says that on each domestic violence call we go to, we issue victims a domestic violence package for victim witness support,’ all that kind of stuff. So that has to be laid out for the accreditation folks to see.
“So for example, when an officer is on a call for a domestic and they issue that package, that would be on their body-worn cam, so you would have to go back in, find that footage, retain it, put it in the PowerDMS as the proof,” he continued, having previously noted that PowerDMS is an accreditation management software system.
“The things that we are doing, we have to provide proof that we actually do these things,” he said. “And then the assessors take a report to the commission, and the commission reviews the assessment and decides whether to award you accreditation or not.
“It’s not a gimme,” he added, describing the lack of ease in becoming accredited. “It’s very much not a gimme. It’s a lot of work.”
WHERE THE WPD STANDS IN THE PROCESS
The WPD’s accreditation process features a team at work. Riddle said the department is working with Lexipol, its policy content provider, and it has also hired an accreditation manager, Derrick Mays, who used to be a state accreditation manager.
Thus far, the team has “touched all the (department’s) policies,” Riddle said. “We’ve been through all of them. We believe they’re all in alignment with accreditation.”
And the team made some additions as well.
“We added three new policies, two new procedures in addition to the 120-some that we had,” Riddle said. “So we’re just going to go in now and line them up in this accreditation management software, PowerDMS, and we’ll go through. That’s where we’ll start that process.”
He noted that the added policies and procedures cover everything from constitutional compliance and safeguards to license plate recognition technology and personnel.
He said the accreditation process team is moving policies over into PowerDMS “so that we can go through and start to line all the policies up in there, make sure all the accreditation spots are in place, all the headers are in place, everything looks like it’s supposed to look.
“Then we’ll start working on the proof gathering for the accreditation assessment,” he added. “So we’re moving along.”
He noted that there are certain things the Windsor Police Department will not have to do for accreditation purposes.
“For example, one of the things we’ll get a waiver on is 911 communications,” Riddle said. “We don’t manage that. That’s not a Windsor police operation. … So we’ll get some waivers in some areas. We don’t provide courtroom security, we don’t do civil processes; they’re all sheriff’s office functions.”
Riddle said the WPD has a great team of people working on the accreditation process.
“I would say I’m more of a project manager than anything,” he said. “Derrick is actually a former state accreditation manager — nobody knows that stuff better than that man. So he’s very helpful. We meet every Friday morning for hours with Lexipol, and we go through this stuff, and the Lexipol folks are great.”
He said the team continues work early Friday afternoons as well.
“And then, of course, there’s other work behind there, and we’re getting ready to go through the (WPD) building and look at some things compliance-wise that need to be inside the building in certain ways and make some adjustments to stuff there too,” he said.
Those building adjustments may lead to the hiring of contractors, he noted, or depending on the scope of the work, the department may make the adjustments itself.
“We’ve got a couple officers that’re pretty handy,” Riddle said. “It’s what we do in a small town; we don’t have the luxury of hiring contractors, and we don’t have a huge maintenance department.”
The WPD is composed of seven officers, including Riddle.
The chief said he does not have a guesstimate for when the accreditation process might be complete, but he is confident the department is going to get there.
“I think we’ll get done well within the time frames that we need to be done in, so it’s moving right along,” he said.