HomeBerlin NewsBerlin police get grant for accreditation process

Berlin police get grant for accreditation process

Funds help law enforcement ensure ethical, professional standards

The Berlin Township Police Department has become the first law-enforcement agency in the state to take advantage of a new grant from the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police (NJSACOP) to help fund its accreditation.

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Through its Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission (LEAC), NJSACOP secured a $300,000 grant from the federal government to support non-accredited police departments as they go through the detailed process of ensuring ethical and professional standards.

The grant covers the initial costs of LEAC accreditation for up to three years, or until a law-enforcement agency attains accredited status. Grant recipients must then fund reaccreditation costs without the use of the grant.

The LEAC program provides the opportunities and tools required for agencies to successfully attain and retain accreditation, ensuring ongoing adherence to best practices. NJSACOP officials note that law-enforcement agencies are ineligible for the grant if they are receiving other federal funding for accreditation.

Accreditation is a lengthy and detailed process, with regular inspections from NJSACOP accreditors over the course of a two-year assessment. The designation expires within three years, meaning police departments have to maintain myriad requirements.

Berlin and Voorhees Police Chief Lou Bordi is a vocal proponent of the accreditation in his dual role. In the latter, Bordi coordinated an initial accreditation in 2019, and earned the designation again in 2022. He is eager for the Berlin department to complete the process in the next 18 months.

“When I learned that federal money would be available to provide grants for the process, I was eager for Berlin Township to get involved,” he said. “Accreditation would reduce our
insurance premiums by upwards of $14,000 a year. It quickly pays for itself, especially with the support of this grant.”

Bordi said it is a tremendous benefit to have independent, outside assessors review his
departments’ policies and procedures.

“You learn what operations you are doing well and what areas need improvement,” he explained. “The goal is to meet and exceed the industry’s best practices.”

Bordi said assessors are now studying the Berlin department’s operations, including ensuring evidence lockers have multiple locks so fewer officers have access to them. Video cameras are placed in strategic locations to ensure accountability.

“Becoming an NJSACOP-accredited agency has been identified as a significant priority in the early stages of transition, because it is a proven method to drive change, make improvement and meet industry best practices,” noted Berlin Mayor Phyllis Magazzu.

“As mayor, I will remain committed to continuing the accreditation process in Berlin Township long after we receive our initial accreditation. I believe it is a required standard for all police departments in New Jersey that will enable them to continue to improve and not experience the type of organizational failure we experienced in the past.”

The NJSACOP accreditation program is managed by Program Director Harry Delgado, who pointed out that police departments are required to conduct thorough self-analyses to determine how existing operations can be adapted to better serve the public. When the
procedures are in place, a team of LEAC assessors verifies that applicable standards are implemented.

Delgado is quick to note that NJLEAP accreditation does not ensure mistake-free policing or crime-free communities. Nor will it stop citizens from suing police departments and their leaders.

“Accreditation is a progressive and time-proven method of assisting law-enforcement agencies to improve their overall performance,” he noted. “The foundation focuses on the adoption of standards with a clear statement of professional objectives.

“Our team of trained, independent assessors verifies that the applicable standards is implemented.”


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